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British Indian man wins bravery award in Barcelona terror attack


March 6th, 2018

Harry Athwal, from Birmingham, was pictured comforting the child after a van plowed into crowds in Barcelona's busy tourist district.

An Indian-origin Birmingham man, who risked his life to help a fatally injured young boy in the last year’s Barcelona terror attack, has been selected for this year’s ‘Pride of Birmingham’ award.¬†Harry Athwal, a project manager from Great Barr area of north-west Birmingham, was in Spain on holiday with a group of friends and family, including his sister Kinde Dehr, when a terrorist drove a van into pedestrians on Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas tourist spot, killing 13 people and injuring hundreds.

He ran to help seven-year-old Julian Alessandro Cadman, who was among those hit, and defied police orders to evacuate the area to keep holding on to him until the emergency services arrived.

The boy, who had dual British and Australian nationality, died on the spot but his family have since thanked Athwal for being there for him.

“I am a Sikh, and in Sikhism it is my duty to go and help somebody who is hurt or who is being bullied. That, in a sense, overtook me. I didn’t have time to think,” Athwal told the Birmingham Mail.

“At that moment you have a split second to decide what you are going to do. It was my instinct that I had to go and help somebody. I had to do something. It’s in my DNA,” he said.

The 45-year-old has since been in touch with the boy’s grandparents, Noreen and Tony Cadman, who have thanked him for his heroic actions.

He had arrived in Barcelona on August 17, 2017, the day of the attack along with his sister Kinde Dehr and a group of friends.

A week ago, he was in Barcelone for a family holiday with his wife Harjinder and two sons, 19-year-old Deirnn and eight-year-old Khye, to celebrate his younger son’s birthday.

The group was having lunch at a restaurant overlooking Las Ramblas when he heard people’s scream and saw a van ploughing through them. He rushed down to the street to try and help.

“The noise was phenomenal as it [van] hit people – thump after thump after thump. Straight away, I realised it was a terrorist attack,” he recalled.

Athwal says he is “speechless” to be selected for the Pride of Birmingham’s Outstanding Bravery Award. The annual awards, organised by the Birmingham Mail newspaper and partners TSB, to recognise courage, caring, compassion and community.

Athwal is among 11 winners who will be presented with their awards at a ceremony at the University of Birmingham on March 8.