Saturday 22 July 2017

OAP given broom for riots bravery

Brave Brenda outside the Debenhams store in Battersea which she helped defend during rioting
Brave Brenda outside the Debenhams store in Battersea which she helped defend during rioting
Have-a-go hero Brenda helped defend a Debenhams store during rioting in August

A pensioner who helped defend a department store during the riots has been awarded a golden broom for her bravery.

Brenda, from Battersea, south London, who has asked not to be named in full for fear of reprisals, was saluted with brooms and cheered by members of staff at the Debenhams in Clapham Junction.

The store was one of several ransacked on August 8.

Staff and members of the community, including Brenda, worked hard so it could be reopened just three days later.

Brenda, who has been nicknamed "Brave Brenda" by the local community, said: "I got off the bus at Clapham Junction to look at the shops and the riots were already brewing.

"There was a gang gathered on the road and some of them already had masks on. Shops were already shutting up and people were putting padlocks on. I told community police about a gang and I said to him, 'Can I help?'"

When the rioters attacked a newsstand outside the store, Brenda went into action. She said: "One of them (the looters) picked up a newspaper stand and threw it on to the road. I picked them (the papers) up even though a bus could have come round the corner.

"You do not stop to think in these circumstances. I saw rioters smashing up windows."

The morning after, Brenda returned to Clapham Junction to help clear up the debris. She said: "It was a great atmosphere. I met such lovely, lovely people, it was wonderful.

"The riots have invigorated the community spirit but let's not forget that people are still suffering."

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