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Victims of Penygraig knife attack honoured for bravery

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A man who died trying to save a nurse from an armed woman in a frenzied attack in a valleys shop has been honoured for his bravery. John Rees, 88, died during the attack in a Co-Op store in Penygraig in May, 2020.

John was in the shop alongside Lisa Way, a local nurse, and Ayette Bounouri, who have also been recognised for their bravery, when Zara Radcliffe launched a frenzied attack on multiple people, stabbing them to the head and neck with a kitchen knife. Radcliffe admitted the manslaughter of Mr Rees on the grounds of diminished responsibility and also admitted three counts of attempted murder on the same day. She was sentenced to a hospital order without any time limit.

John, Lisa and Ayette have all been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for their bravery in trying to stop the attack.

Read more: The women who found themselves in the middle of a fatal knife attack while shopping at the Co-op

John Rees was at the counter of the Co-Op store when Radcliffe entered. She had attempted to stab a customer in the neck when, without hesitation, Mr Rees intervened. He took hold of Radcliffe's right arm, which was holding the knife, and placed himself between the customer and Radcliffe. He kicked out at her as she approached him with the knife extended in her hand.

Mr Rees then fell to the floor, at this point nurse Lisa Way intervened, by grabbing Radcliffe's hand in an attempt to stop her. Ayette Bounouri also tried to help Mr Rees by using a shopping basket to disarm Radcliffe. The two women both put themselves in harm's way to help Mr Rees.

Lisa Way and Ayette Bounouri who tried to save stabbing victim John Rees when he was attacked in the Penygraig Co-op (Image: Mark Lewis)

Radcliffe then attempted to stab Mrs Way several times while Mrs Bounouri desperately tried to pull Mr Rees to safety - however, he was unable to stand again following the attack. Recognising their bravery, the Civilian Gallantry List for 2023 stated: "By their selfless actions, it is without doubt that both Mrs Bounouri and Mrs Way put themselves in harm's way, in an effort to save Mr Rees's life."

Following his death, a statement was released on behalf of his family. It said: "John was the very definition of a good man, extremely respected and liked in the community. He was proud of his family, proud to be a Welshman, and devoted to All Saints Church. We all miss him terribly."

At Radcliffe's court hearing a victim impact statement was read on behalf of the family by Mr Rees's son-in-law, Patrick Davidson Heuston, which described the former electricity board worker as "calm, generous, and humble". Mr Heuston added: "We are very proud of the actions he took on the day but not surprised."

Friend Wyndham Jones said Mr Rees was a "a true gem" and "the kindest person you could ever wish to meet".

Mr Rees was the church bell ringer at his local church, All Saints Church, in Trealaw. Following his death, the whole community grieved his loss and honoured him in a minute's silence.

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