Wooler man receives Queen’s Award for terrorist attack bravery

18 Sep 2017

A Wooler man has been awarded a prestigious bravery award  for helping to save fellow tourists during a terrorist attack in Tunisia in 2015,  using skills he had  learned in the Territorial Army.

This week, Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland presented the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery  to Paul Short during a special ceremony at The Alnwick Garden.

Paul, an ex-territorial soldier  was on holiday in  the coastal resort of Sousse, Tunisia  with his wife Sarah when terrorist Seiffeddine Rezgui began a gun and grenade assault at Imperial Marhaba beach hotel killing 38 people, before he was shot dead himself.

Paul and Sarah were sunbathing next to the hotel pool when they heard what Paul immediately recognised to be gunfire so he rushed his wife to the relative safety of their hotel room.  

Recounting the terrifying moments he faced while helping other tourists caught up in the attack, he  describes how he went out and saw three bodies nearby, two were tragically already dead, but the third – a man – was still moving. “I went up to concentrate on the guy because I wanted to try to save his life,” he said. The victim was bleeding really badly from a wound on his leg with blood running down the steps. Mr Short pushed a towel into the wound and  put a tourniquet on his leg while telling him to keep quiet as the gunman was still nearby.

At this point, an older man who was hard of hearing,  came into the lobby shouting for his wife, attracting the attention of the gunman. Mr Short said: “ The gunman turned around and started firing at him. I ran up to the old guy, the first bullet missed him and I pulled him behind a pillar ” He managed to get the old man into a room and hid under a chair before the attacker launched a grenade  killing  a further two or three people.

Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland said:  “ Paul  showed outstanding  courage, clarity of thought  and a complete disregard for his own personal safety during what was clearly a terrifying ordeal. His actions  undoubtedly helped to save the lives of others during this terrible terrorist atrocity.

“I’m incredibly proud to present this Queen’s Commendation for Bravery  to Paul on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. The award gives national recognition to acts of great bravery and is only  given out in exceptional circumstances.  This commendation is so very well deserved. ”

Paul said   '' Everything happened so quickly on that fateful day. You just go with your instincts and  focus on what needs to be done to help others. That's what anyone with any military training would have done.”

“I am thrilled  but surprised to get the commendation.  It is a true honour to receive this award, especially when my name is included alongside those of so many brave people. ”