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George Medal hero Bernard Kenny who tried to save murdered MP Jo Cox, dies aged 79

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The man who was hailed a hero for trying to save murdered MP Jo Cox has died, his family has said.

Bernard Kenny, 79, was given the George Medal for his valiant efforts to protect Ms Cox as she was attacked by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair.

Mr Kenny, a former miner and grandfather, sustained serious injuries after he was stabbed in the stomach with a ten inch blade trying to shield the Labour MP for Batley and Spen as she left her constituency surgery in June, 2016.

He ran from his car in a frantic effort to save the MP after he saw her collapse and was hit by the blade which pierced his liver, narrowly missing hs heart and other major organs.

His son, Phil Kenny, said his father had been suffering with cancer and passed away with his wife, Doreen, by his side.

He told the Huddersfield Examiner: “He went very peacefully and he was not suffering. He wanted to die at home and he did so.”

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He added that the bravery his father showed in trying to protect Ms Cox was typical of the former miner..

Mr Kenny was honoured with the George Medal on the first anniversary of Ms Cox’s death – but had not received it by the time he passed away. 

His son said: “It was a very special moment when that was announced. He didn’t tell his family. He kept it a secret right up until the moment that it was revealed to the press. 

“We think it has to be presented by a member of the royal family so we expect he will receive it posthumously and probably Doreen will be presented with it.”

Despite many requests, Mr Kenny, who was Batley born and bred, never gave interviews to the media following the horrific attack.

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“My dad could have been on wall-to-wall TV but he chose not to. He was a very private, unassuming, family man. Stubborn, kind and fair. An excellent bloke.”

The only time the media heard his story was when his police statement was read out at Mair’s trial at the Old Bailey.

The jury heard Mr Kenny was waiting for his wife outside the library when he saw Mair going “berserk”.

He said: “I thought if I could jump on to the back I could take him down. I thought he was thumping her until I saw the blood. I saw he had a knife in his hands.

“Just as I got short of him, he turned around and saw me. He shoved the knife in and it hit me in the stomach. The blood started pouring out between my fingers. I saw the blood and I thought ‘Oh my God’.”

After he was discharged from hospital, Mr Kenny and his family offered their condolences to the family of Ms Cox.

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More than 80,000 people signed an online petition calling for Mr Kenny to be awarded the George Medal – the highest civilian honour for bravery.

Upon being told he had received it, Mr Kenny, who shared a birthday with Ms Cox, said he felt “honoured”.

Tracy Brabin, who was elected MP for Batley and Spen following Ms Cox’s death, describe the have-a-go go hero Bernard as “brave and selfless”.

Neo-Nazi Mair was given a whole life sentence for the murder.

He was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Kenny and possession of a gun and dagger.

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