Hero: Johnson Beharry VC

Suzanne Gaywood MBE, Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel, and Dr Johnson Beharry VC

Ten years ago today, at Al-Amarah Iraq, Johnson Gideon Beharry, a British Army soldier, sustained serious head injuries while saving members of his unit from ambush.

The full citation was published in a supplement to the London Gazette of 18 March 2005 and commented, “Private Beharry carried out two individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades. Both were in direct face of the enemy, under intense fire, at great personal risk to himself (one leading to him sustaining very serious injuries). … Beharry displayed repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action.”

Suzanne Gaywood MBE, Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel, and Dr Johnson Beharry VC
Suzanne Gaywood MBE, Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel and Dr Johnson Beharry VC at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Beharry was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, in 2005. Beharry, born in Grenada in 1979, is the first living recipient of the VC since 1969, and the first living recipient of the VC in the British Army since 1965.

Heliconia Johnson Beharry VC
Heliconia Johnson Beharry VC

A new cultivar of Heliconia named the Johnson Beharry VC was presented at the Grenada booth, in his honour, at the 2006 prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The new plant was cultivated on Balthazar Estate in St Andrew, by Chelsea team member Dennis Noel. Artist Emma Wesley was commissioned by London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG), to do a portrait of Beharry in full military dress in 2006. Beharry has also been featured on Grenadian, British and Commonwealth stamps.

Johnson Gideon Beharry by Emma Wesley. NPG 6803.
Johnson Gideon Beharry by Emma Wesley. NPG 6803.

This past March, Beharry holidayed in Grenada for the first time in 2 1/2 years, and said that he and his new family were thrilled to be here. His recently launched Johnson Beharry VC (JBVC) Foundation in the UK, leads youngsters away from a life of drugs and crime, and rehabilitates and prepares them for the world of work. Beharry said that his plan is to start a similar foundation in Grenada.

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