Robert Fenwick R.N. Star of Courage

Robert Fenwick placed himself between the knives of a mental patient and the young 20 year old nurse he was trying to stab and saved her life. In doing so he gave his own. He has been awarded (posthumously) our Nation’s second highest award for bravery after the Cross of Valor¬† (other than the Victoria Cross of Australia which is for valor in the face of the enemy) the Star of Courage. Mr Fenwick SC was 63 and a father, dedicated to nursing and mental health. Once again, we forget those who serve us not just on the front line in Afghanistan, but everyday and night here in our own country. He was assisted by a patient, Brett French, who has been awarded the Bravery Medal.

These awards for courage and bravery underline how hazardous just earning your living can be for some of us. I no longer have to fear anything worse than a nasty papercut but there one was a time when going to work did not automatically guarantee returning in the same fit state one left. There are hazardous occupations throughout the community and not just police, fire, ambulance officers. AS we have seen, nurses and doctors and other medical professionals can be at risk. Security officers and bar staff all have their tales of irate punters having to be dealt with and of course bank tellers and shop assistants know the all too possible risk of being robbed at gun point.

Taxi drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, pilots, ferry crews all run risks every day just to do their jobs and serve us. Sales people who may find themselves alone in isolated situations, like real estate agents showing a house to a potential buyer or renter, who knows what that customer may have in mind? Then there are jobs that are inherently dangerous because of the work performed, like crane dog men standing under slung loads weighing many tons or fishermen out to sea in all weathers.

Pause for a moment and remember Mr Robert Fenwick SC. Consider that the nurse he saved had taken defensive wounds to her hands that included almost losing her little finger. Knives are lethal and no matter how well trained you might be, there is always the risk of sustaining injury when you have to disarm a knife attacker. I have done it more than once and never had a scratch but the difference there was the my attackers were trying to stab me, that’s all I’m sure. In this case the mental patient was intending to kill his victim and that makes it a very different thing altogether. Intent is everything when all other factors, like weapon and victim, are the same.

No doubt a microscopic examination of the situation and scene would find Mr Fenwick SC could have done a dozen things differently and perhaps the outcome would have been different however, hindsight is 20/20 and our hero didn’t have the luxury of time and distance to decide on the most likely to succeed course of action. He reacted immediately, instinctively and without hesitation. He took action in the most direct way possible, by placing himself between the attacker and the target. He did what many of us hope we would have the courage and the character to do in a similar situation. Vale Robert Fenwick, SC.

 

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