When I opened my copy of Metro on my way to work on Tuesday morning, a picture of a smiling young woman holding a bunch of bright yellow sunflowers jumped out at me.
It took me back to our coverage of the sad events of the London Bridge terror attack on 3 June 2017, nearly two years ago – how time passes! Just thinking about it again now makes me feel emotional.
Of course, the image I was looking at was of Kirsty Boden, the nurse murdered after going to the aid of the initial victims of the attack. I imagine the senselessness of the events of that night are not lost on anyone reading this.
”Ms Boden’s immediate reaction was to rush to assist, ‘as she was a nurse’”
Ms Boden, a senior staff nurse at Guy’s Hospital, was one of eight people killed that night when terrorists rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing others at Borough Market.
The reason her picture was in the paper was because the inquest into the deaths started this week and is due to run for eight weeks at the Old Bailey.
I’m just going to give a quick recap of some of what was heard at the inquest about the events in question, because I think it’s more powerful than any analysis I can provide.
The inquest was told by the chief coroner that, on hearing the sound of a van crashing, Ms Boden’s immediate reaction was to rush to assist, “as she was a nurse”.
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She initially went to help one member of the public who had been hurt by falling debris and can then be seen on CCTV crouching down, trying to help another one of the eight victims, Alexandre Pigeard.
Previously, another off-duty nurse, Helen Kennett, had been stabbed in the neck while trying to help Mr Pigeard who was set upon twice by the three knifemen, the inquest was told.
When Ms Boden later went to his aid, she was also attacked by the trio, explained senior investigating officer, detective superintendent Rebecca Riggs.
Ms Boden managed to flee down an alleyway before collapsing. She died at the scene from a stab wound to the chest.
For her actions, the 28-year-old, originally from Australia, was posthumously given the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
The inquest also heard from Ms Boden’s partner and from her father, who gave heartfelt tributes to her, both as an individual and as a nurse. Her partner James Hodder stated that “Kirsty loved nursing” and that “to her it was more than a job”.
“I suspect many of the qualities described will chime more widely with those in the profession”
He added that, while sorting through her belongings after her death, he had found a folder filled with thank you cards from patients. “Kirsty never mentioned these cards to me. To Kirsty, kindness was the reward”, he told the inquest.
While these comments are absolutely unique to Ms Boden, I suspect many of the qualities described will chime more widely with those in the profession.
The fact that off-duty health professionals like Ms Boden and Ms Kennett are prepared to go to the aid of others, regardless of the situation and danger to themselves, leaves the rest of us in awe.