Royston Smith and Alistair Neill receive the George Medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace

Bravery awards for city heroes

Former Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith alongside HMS Astute before the shooting

Southampton City Council chief executive Alistair Neill

First published in News

SOUTHAMPTON'S former council leader and outgoing chief executive were today decorated for their bravery in wrestling a gunman to the deck on board a nuclear submarine .

Tory group leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill tackled Able Seaman Ryan Donovan on board HMS Asute after he opened fire while they inspected the vessel as it was docked in the city on a goodwill visit in April last year.

Donovan, who was put on sentry duty despite being drunk, fired the SA80 assault rifle six times in the control room of the sub, killing Weapons Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36.

The father-of-four from Standish, Wigan, tried to disarm Donovan after hearing shots on board the submarine on April 8 last year, but was shot in the head.

When Donovan was jailed for 25 years in September last year for murder and three counts of attempted murder, Winchester Crown Court was told the death toll could have been higher but for the bravery of Mr Neill and Cllr Smith.

They were both awarded the George Medal, one of the highest accolades for bravery, by the Queen at Buckingham Palace today.

Both men said their thoughts were with the family of Lt Cmdr Molyneux, whose widow Gillian collected his posthumously awarded George Medal at an investiture ceremony last week for his role in preventing a massacre on board the Royal Navy's latest and largest submarine.

Cllr Smith, who formerly served with the Royal Air Force, said he was glad to have been able to do something when the need arose.

''It was a surreal situation to have been in,'' he said.

''It is certainly the best thing I have been awarded. I wish it was for some other circumstances.''

Mr Neill, who this month announced his resignation from his £165,000-a-year city council role  added: ''Something of that significance (the shooting) never leaves you and it is right that you never forget things as extraordinary as what we experienced.

''This medal is something I am personally deeply overwhelmed to be awarded in this way.''

The citation for their medals said they placed themselves at great risk by choosing to tackle Donovan.

''By their actions they prevented further shootings and possible death or injury to others on board the submarine,'' it read.

Comments (5)

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7:49pm Wed 21 Nov 12

On the inside says...

I could never agree with Royston on the time of day, but he deserves this.
I could never agree with Royston on the time of day, but he deserves this. On the inside
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Paramjit Bahia says...

Cllr. Royston Smith and Alaistair Neill displayed exceptional courage and quick reactions in exceptionally dangerous situation in which sadly Lt. Cmdr Molyneux lost his life.

They deserved to be honoured, which was very rightly recognised and now George Medals formerly given by the head of state.

Congratulations to every body honoured.

Peple should also think of officer who lost his life.

Hope like when this recognition was first announced in Daily Echo, when certain character/s decided to post politically biased comments about Cllr. Smith, this time nobody will repeat that kind of disgraceful mentality.

Because this is not about political views of Cllr. Smith but about how bravely he and others behaved in highly dangerous situation, for which he deserves respect and admiration.
Cllr. Royston Smith and Alaistair Neill displayed exceptional courage and quick reactions in exceptionally dangerous situation in which sadly Lt. Cmdr Molyneux lost his life. They deserved to be honoured, which was very rightly recognised and now George Medals formerly given by the head of state. Congratulations to every body honoured. Peple should also think of officer who lost his life. Hope like when this recognition was first announced in Daily Echo, when certain character/s decided to post politically biased comments about Cllr. Smith, this time nobody will repeat that kind of disgraceful mentality. Because this is not about political views of Cllr. Smith but about how bravely he and others behaved in highly dangerous situation, for which he deserves respect and admiration. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

11:05pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Linesman says...

Royston Smith fully deserved his award. If it were not for his and Alistair Neil's prompt action, more lives could have been lost.
Royston Smith fully deserved his award. If it were not for his and Alistair Neil's prompt action, more lives could have been lost. Linesman
  • Score: 0

11:15pm Wed 21 Nov 12

bigfella777 says...

Royston is a real man, forthright, upfont, honest and a real gentleman. Cant wait to see him back in power to sort out this total shambles we are in now.
Royston is a real man, forthright, upfont, honest and a real gentleman. Cant wait to see him back in power to sort out this total shambles we are in now. bigfella777
  • Score: 0

8:59am Thu 22 Nov 12

Linesman says...

bigfella777 wrote:
Royston is a real man, forthright, upfont, honest and a real gentleman. Cant wait to see him back in power to sort out this total shambles we are in now.
Don't go overboard.

He was rewarded for his prompt action that possibly saved lives. He was not rewarded for causing mountains of rubbish to be left on the city's streets.
[quote][p][bold]bigfella777[/bold] wrote: Royston is a real man, forthright, upfont, honest and a real gentleman. Cant wait to see him back in power to sort out this total shambles we are in now.[/p][/quote]Don't go overboard. He was rewarded for his prompt action that possibly saved lives. He was not rewarded for causing mountains of rubbish to be left on the city's streets. Linesman
  • Score: 0

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