Friends of a victims campaigner who died after contracting Covid-19 have called for him to be honoured for gallantry.
Wayne Gruba, 67, originally from Wales, was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2019 for his work with victims of terrorism.
During the pandemic, he was involved in a volunteer ambulance initiative that helped vulnerable and isolated people living in London.
He had also supported a charity project in Thailand for orphans and disabled children.
Mr Gruba, who ran his own facilities management company, was best known as a campaigner for victims of Libyan-supplied IRA explosives.
He co-founded the Docklands Victims Association (DVA) in London after the 1996 republican bombing which killed two people and injured many more.
Ahead of his funeral on Tuesday, terror victims and politicians have paid tributes to his legacy.
DVA president Jonathan Ganesh, who was badly injured in the Docklands bombing, said the association had made representations to the Government recommending that Mr Gruba is honoured with a posthumous George Cross.
“I have known Wayne for over 30 years and he was like a father to me,” said Mr Ganesh, who will read a tribute at Tuesday’s funeral.
“He worked tirelessly for others all his life to help them. Wayne placed himself in grave danger by going into the frontline in the DVA ambulance to help those impacted by Covid-19. May God bless him in heaven as he will remain within my heart forever. I loved him so very much.”
Leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party Sir Jeffrey Donaldson called Mr Gruba an inspiration.
“I came to know Wayne through his voluntary work with the Docklands Victims Association,” he said.
“Wayne knew all too well the pain and suffering of those innocent people caught up in acts of terrorism and sought to reach out to others and to provide them with care and support through the DVA. This vital work was carried on during the Covid pandemic and reached many vulnerable individuals and families who needed support in difficult and challenging circumstances.
“As such, Wayne’s strong sense of humanity has been an inspiration and it is fitting that his contribution to the welfare of victims and others should be recognised at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they lay Wayne to rest.”
Mr Gruba was a prominent campaigner for compensation for those bereaved or injured in IRA bombings that used Libyan explosives.
Arms supplied by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi were used in multiple Troubles bomb attacks such as those targeting Harrods in 1983, the Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen in 1987, Warrington in 1993 and the London’s Docklands three years later.
Mr Gruba, who worked in the Docklands and knew the two men who died, had called for the Government to use interest generated from Libyan assets frozen in the UK to compensate the victims of Gaddafi’s explosives.
He had also successfully campaigned for injured Troubles victims from Great Britain to be included in a separate compensation scheme originally envisaged for victims in Northern Ireland.
Ihsan Bashir’s brother Inam was killed in the Docklands attack.
“My family are so sad that Wayne has gone,” he said.
“Many people pretend to care but he really did. His actions and bravery said it all”.
Susanne Dodd, whose policeman father Stephen was killed in the Harrods bombing, also paid tribute to Mr Gruba.
“I’m still in tears,” she said. “He helped me. I still can’t believe he has gone. He will be missed.”
Joe Holbeach, who was injured in the Enniskillen bombing, added: “He will be greatly missed in Northern Ireland. He was good to me and had time for me. He took me to see the Lion King. I can’t stop crying.”
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