Hero of the Year now an M.B.E
Steve, the British Transport Police Inspector who you may remember me writing about before phoned me up to tell me he is getting an M.B.E from the Queen in the New year's honours list!
Here is Steve looking very serious.
I had read on BBC news online about Steve - and later I found out more, which is quite hard because Steve is an extremely modest man. On July 7th, Steve was on duty at Kings Cross as part of his G8 duties. He heard the explosion beneath his feet, he hurried straight to the platform when he saw smoke billowing out of the south-bound Piccadilly line tunnel. He told his younger colleague Gerard, to stand guard and wait in case he didn't come back, in which case to report him as a casualty and seal the station. Steve then began running into the smoke-filled tunnel to help the people of the Kings Cross train, not knowing whether he was running into a fire or a second set of bombs or a biological attack - just running to help. Heading straight into danger.
I badly wanted to meet Steve, and so did many of my fellow-passengers, and we were delighted when we finally met him. The first time I met Steve was on November 1st, the day of the Memorial Service. Earlier that day, I had grabbed an official-looking copper chap with lots of silver bits on his uniform (who turned out to be the Chief Constable) before the Memorial Service, asking if he knew Steve and if so, he must let Steve know that Kings Cross United wanted to buy him a drink. I am pleased to say that the Chief Constable did indeed pass this message on faithfully, and Steve came to the pub and met lots of grateful passengers from the train. I showed Steve the KCU book we have where we marked where we stood on a plan of the train. Over 80 people's names are there, across five pages.
'Look at all those names,' I said, 'you helped them all get off - they're all here - because of you'. It was all very emotional and Jane and I ended up leaping on Steve and giving him a hug.
Since then Steve has been a member of Kings Cross United and we are extremely proud to have him amongst us. It is his calm voice saying 'Ladies and gentlemen, I am a police officer' that so many of the passengers remember as the first thing that gave them hope as they stood trapped in the smoke and darkness deep underground, not knowing if anyone official knew about them, waiting to be rescued because they could not get off the train trapped in the narrow tunnel.
Steve got all the passengers who could walk safely off the train, and Gerard who had been told to stay behind and had to wait anxiously on the platform could then take over and help them, which he did brilliantly, and the July 7th rescue operation began to swing into operation. Steve then made his way to the last carriage of the train - carriage one - forced open the damaged interconnecting door, and saw 'what no amount of training will prepare you for' and what he 'will never talk about, out of respect for those people and for their families'.
There were still some people alive on carriage one though, who were not able to evacuate through the driver's cab or through the back of the train. Steve had to tell them that he had to leave them but would be coming back with medical help. It was he said, 'the hardest thing I have ever had to do' and 'went against my moral fibre'. But Steve on his own couldn't help the injured, and the decision he made to leave them to bring help for them was absolutely the right thing to do.
Still extraordinarily hard though. Steve and Gerard were later given the highest possible honour award from the British Transport Police (and after that, some of Kings Cross United had lunch with them and the Chief Constable and the Deputy Chief Constable and had a chance to thank the officers and the police force formally.)
So this entry at the end of an extraordinary year is dedicated to Steve, Gerard, Tom the train driver, ( who are all in KCU) David the Russell Square station supervisor who also ran into the tunnel to help, Carrie and Anna the passing nurses from Great Ormond Street hospital who ran to help the injured at Russell Square platform, Aaron and the rest of the crew of Blue Watch Euston and Soho fire service, and all the people I don't know the names of or haven't met who helped us on that day.
Thank you so very much. There aren't really words.
The other July 7th helpers who have been honoured can be seen here