A little boy was hit in the Barcelona van attack. This man sat with him until help arrived.

“There were bodies left and right. In the middle of it all there was a child and I was instantly drawn to that child.”

British tourist Harry Athwal is talking about the scene in Barcelona during last week’s terror attack.

“It was a boy, obviously quite badly injured. I checked for a pulse he didn’t have a pulse. I put my hand on his back. He wasn’t breathing. I stroked his head to try and comfort him. I just stayed with him until the police came.”

Athwal, who is a father himself, was in a restaurant on Las Ramblas when he saw bodies “flying into the air” on the afternoon of August 17.

Running out into the street, Athwal told Good Morning Britain he disobeyed police orders to stay and comfort a dying boy.

“There were other people I could hear them crying and screaming. And when the first policeman got to me, he shouted to me in Spanish, to told me to move out of the way. Of course I was scared. But I was holding this child and I didn’t want to move him,” Athwal said.

“He was injured severely and he wasn’t breathing and I didn’t want to move him. But I thought to myself, ‘if there is another van, another attack, then I am going to pick him up and move him’.”


Athwal – who does not yet know the fate of the little boy he so bravely comforted – shouted for an ambulance. “I was crying, I was in tears,” he said. “I just sat there stroking his hair.”

Most importantly, Athwal says all of us – the common men and women – need to stand up in the fight against terrorism.

How do we do that? As this heroic father has shown us: With compassion.