Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole: Calls to honour ‘hero’ who died in Thames rescue attempt with George Cross

Father of 20-year-old says he wants son to be ‘remembered forever for what he did’

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 04 January 2022 16:22
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Family call for Thames hero to be awarded George Cross ‘so his name cannot vanish forever’

There have been renewed calls for Folajimi “Jimi” Olubunmi-Adewole, the hero who died trying to rescue a woman in the River Thames, to be recognised with the UK’s highest civilian gallantry award.

The 20-year-old was one of two men who jumped into the river near London Bridge at around midnight on 24 April, after hearing a woman shout for help while on his way home from work.

The woman and Joaquin Garcia, who also jumped in to help, were both rescued by the coastguard and police, who were unable to save Mr Olubunmi-Adewole.

Speaking days afterwards, following the launch of a public campaign to award the former student at Harris Academy in Peckham with a George Cross medal, his 63-year-old father Michael Adewola said that he would like the government to honour him “so that his name cannot vanish forever”.

“He is a hero and always will be, I can’t bring him back but I want him to be remembered forever for what he did, it was just like him to want to always try and help others,” Mr Adewola said.

An online petition to posthumously award him the honour has since garnered hundreds of signatures, and social media was also flooded with calls to do so.

The ongoing campaign saw something of a resurgence on Tuesday, following the publication of the New Year’s Honours List.

Writing in The Times, columnist Ian Birrell argued that awarding the George Cross to Mr Olubunmi-Adewole would “show admiration and respect for a genuine hero”.

The article, which noted that politicians from all parties had previously “hailed the selfless heroism shown by this young man from a south London council estate, who was working in a well-known Westminster restaurant”, was shared on Twitter by trade minister Penny Mordaunt, who agreed the 20-year-old “should be a candidate for the George Cross”.

An online petition to do so also appeared to have garnered more than 200 new signatures on Tuesday, rising to a total of 725 by Tuesday afternoon after surpassing 500 less than a day earlier.

A separate petition calling for the installation of a plaque commemorating him at Postman’s Park, near St Paul’s Cathedral in central London, has received more than 160,000 signatures in recent months.

Shortly after his death, the City of London Police put him forward for a Royal Humane Society award to honour his “memory and heroism” for his “bravery and selfless actions”.

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