A new musical honors the man who gave his life to save others in the London Bridge Attack of 2017.
Ignacio Echeverría, a Spanish lawyer who worked for a bank to fight money laundering, saved the lives of several people in London in 2017 when he confronted terrorists with his skateboard. Dozens of young people took the stage to pay tribute to this young man from Madrid whom they consider an example for “giving his life out of love until the end.” A new musical recreates his last 24 hours before his heroic act.
Juan Ayuso, 19, actor and composer, sees it as a great responsibility to get into the role of Ignacio Echeverría, someone who has touched many hearts:
“Being able to transmit (the story of) a life as important and exemplary as Ignacio’s and to do it through music is exciting. There are few lives as remarkable as his.”
Together with Juan, 50 young people recently took the stage at the Joaquín Rodríguez Auditorium in Las Rozas, Madrid, the city where the hero was born, to bring this musical to life. The actors are from the Santa María Movement, led by Javier Segura, president of the “Ven y Verás Educación” (“Come and See”) Association.
Segura produces the show because he believes that “Ignacio is a very special reference point for young people.”
Although they haven’t scheduled more performances yet, several Spanish cities have shown interest, so a tour may be on the horizon. In addition, in 2022 they’ll take an English-language version of the show to London, where the story of the young man who gave his life to save the lives of others found its climax. As the producer says, “Ignacio’s life is a real bridge between Spain and the United Kingdom.”
What can young people learn from it?
Ana and Joaquín, Ignacio’s parents, have been key to the musical. They’ve been actively involved and have helped work the script to make it the most accurate reflection possible of Ignatius’ simple and heroic life.
His mother believes that young people can learn from him “to enjoy life and to be brave when you have a problem.” His father says Ignacio can help others “to be a good, decent, well-behaved person.”
Juan Ayuso, the actor who plays the role, highlights Ignacio’s main lesson as “putting others before oneself and the ability to look at others first.”
At the end of the play, Ignacio’s parents gave their son’s skateboard to the entire team that had performed the musical, as a sign of recognition.
His last 24 hours
On June 3, 2017, Ignacio Echeverría (39 years old) was riding his bike home after an afternoon skateboarding with his friends. A large commotion on London Bridge startled him. First, he saw a wounded man running away. Then he saw him stab another man, who fell to the ground.
Without thinking, Ignacio rushed to help. He jumped off his bike, and started waving his skateboard in front of the terrorists, who were about to stab a couple. Ignacio protected them and saved their lives. “One of the attackers was trying to cover his head while Ignacio was hitting him,” recounted one of his friends who was able to witness what happened.
Ignacio fought them off, saving the lives of others, until one of the terrorists jumped on him and stabbed him. The other terrorist joined the attack when the young man was already on the ground.
Eight people died in the attack, but there would’ve been more if Ignacio hadn’t given his life for others. His mother says,
“Ignacio always understood very clearly what to do and what not to do. He saw that the situation was getting out of control of the police and went to see what was going on. As his only weapon was his skateboard, he went to defend the people there. He defended a couple, and the couple is alive today. He achieved his purpose.”
Commission for his beatification
His heroism earned him several posthumous decorations, both in Spain and in the United Kingdom, including the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (Spain) and the George Medal (UK) awarded by Queen Elizabeth II.
The auxiliary bishop of Madrid, Bishop Martínez Camino, is in charge of the causes of the saints for the Archbishopric of Madrid. With his encouragement, the family is working to create a commission to initiate the process of beatification, which cannot begin until five years after the person’s death.
They’ll propose his path to sainthood under the concept of the “offering of life,” a path opened by Pope Francis in the apostolic letter Maiorem hac dilectionem, July 11, 2017.