The Stanhope Gold Medal for 2022 has been awarded to Lukasz Koczocik. The Awards Committee, together with guest voters from the High Commissions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, and the Chairman of the Liverpool Shipwreck & Humane Society met at Canada House to decide the award, which was unanimous. Lukasz, who is the head porter at Fishmongers Hall, showed extraordinary bravery when he confronted an armed terrorist who had already fatally wounded two others during an attack inside Fishmongers’ Hall. This is the full story.
Lukasz Koczocik, the head porter, was working on a lower floor when he heard a colleague screaming that someone had been stabbed. He immediately alerted his manager and urged people to remain calm. He then ran upstairs towards the point of danger, imagining only that his first aid skills would be required. Lukasz emerged into a scene of utter chaos. It was clear that something terrible had happened and there was screaming and overturned furniture as panic ensued.
He advanced further into the Entrance Hall to identify the cause and saw an attacker holding two long knives, upturned, the blades already bloodied. There was a body on the floor and another on the staircase. It was clear to Lukasz that the incident was still ongoing and that the risk was extremely high. Although he had the option to escape Lukasz did not flinch. He saw two other people throwing chairs at the attacker in desperation, but this action had little effect on the knifeman. He realised that he needed to act decisively and quickly, to prevent the man from harming others, even though he was now alone face to face with the terrorist.
He seized the initiative and grabbed a ceremonial boarding pike from the wall and began to thrust and parry with his assailant, who had already mortally wounded two others with fatal stabs. This fight was now gladiatorial in nature. Lukasz landed one strike on his opponent’s shoulder, but the tip of his blade hit resistance and it appeared that the terrorist may have had some form of body armour (it was subsequently revealed that this was an imitation suicide vest). To counter these thrusts, the terrorist moved in closer and began slashing at Lukasz’s defending arm, inflicting hand and shoulder wounds and forcing him to drop his pike.
Refusing to give ground, Lukasz remained in grave danger, but he had already bought enough time to allow others with equal courage and resolve to come back armed with fire extinguishers and narwhal tusks. These reinforcements arrived just in time and probably saved his life. The vicious fight continued for a further two minutes and as a team they overwhelmed the perpetrator, eventually harrying him out of the building.
It should be noted that after Lukasz entered the fray, no other people in the Hall were injured except himself. He took some weeks to recover from his wounds but is now back at work. The terrorist was forced from the building by others and was quickly shot dead by armed police on London Bridge.
For his extremely brave and selfless actions that day Lukasz Koczocik was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Silver Medal and subsequently, the Stanhope Gold Medal.
The Stanhope Medal was introduced in 1873 in memory of Chandos Scudamore Scudamore Stanhope (1823-71). The first recipient was Captain Matthew Webb, for his attempted rescue of a man who had fallen into the Atlantic Ocean from the rigging of a ship. In 1875, Captain Webb achieved fame as the first person to swim the English Channel. In 1962, it was decided that the award should be open to all kindred Commonwealth Humane Societies, so nominations from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka (from 2014) are now eligible.