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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Westminster attack hero and minister calls for recognition of mental health issues in veterans

Tobias Ellwood was called a hero after he tried to save the life of PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster attack

Tobias Ellwood, a British minister and former soldier, tried to resuscitate PC Keith Palmer, who was stabbed during the Westminster attack in March. Credit: Matt Dunhan/ AP
Tobias Ellwood, a British minister and former soldier, tried to resuscitate PC Keith Palmer, who was stabbed during the Westminster attack in March. Credit: Matt Dunhan/ AP

A British minister and former soldier, who desperately tried to save the life of a policeman during the Westminster attack, has launched a new initiative to improve mental health within the Armed Forces.

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative Party politician, rushed to help PC Keith Palmer, who had been stabbed by attacker Khalid Masood, outside the Houses of Parliament. Mr Palmer later died from his injuries.

Pictures of Mr Ellwood covered in blood at the scene after giving the police officer CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation were shown across the world, with many declaring him a hero.

The 50-year-old, who served in the British army until the late 1990's, spoke to the Daily Telegraph for the first time about the attack earlier this year.

He told the publication: "I think the hardest thing, as well as stepping through with others to try and save PC Keith Palmer's life, was coming home and finding my eight-year-old boy on top of the stairs having refused to go to bed.

"It was 10 o'clock at night and he was really confused. He couldn't understand why a bad person would do what he did and he also couldn't quite understand why I had then stepped forward in the way that I did.

"I had to explain to him that there are some bad people in this world. There are bad people doing bad things, but there are more good people doing good things, and that's why we stand up to events such as this."

Mr Ellwood is using his position in the Ministry of Defence to call for recognition of the different mental health issues that conflict can inflict on those in the armed forces.

He urged those who are suffering not to "bottle up" their feelings in a bid to end the stigma around mental health problems.

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