Belfast Telegraph

Have-a-go heroism of a very high order

Sometimes one person's courage knows no bounds, and this was certainly true of Gemma Stewart who confronted violent thugs while they were savagely beating up a schoolboy and causing him serious injuries.

Andrew Clarke was set upon without any reason in a Belfast restaurant and, as his friends and diners looked on in horror, he was punched, dragged to the ground and kicked on the head.

Not surprisingly, bystanders were extremely frightened by this sudden violence but Gemma, who is only 5ft 4ins tall, came to Andrew's rescue. Oblivious to her personal danger, she intervened, and shielded the schoolboy victim from the thugs, including some of the brutes who towered over her.

Bravely she continued to confront them and pushed several of the bullies away. She succeeded in her main objective of shielding Andrew from further attacks and somehow she managed to move the thugs outside the restaurant.

At the height of the confrontation, Andrew was worried that his brave rescuer had taken on too much, but he had not reckoned on Gemma's exemplary courage in seeing off his attackers. Gemma's actions were all the more noteworthy because she and Andrew were strangers.

She said later "I just felt that somebody had to do something, or this wee boy was going to be beaten so badly."

Andrew's father, who watched the attack on closed-circuit television, had no doubt that if Gemma had not intervened, his son might have been killed.

It was a situation which many people dread, and it is difficult to know how any one of us would react in similar circumstances. There is also the sad reality that many would-be Good Samaritans might themselves end up with serious injury.

Gemma, however, became a have-a-go heroine whose intervention was successful, and her bravery will be applauded by decent human beings everywhere.

Gemma Stewart may be small in stature but she has shown that she is also a really big human being in every way.

This was a victory for instant heroism of a high order.

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From Belfast Telegraph