OPINION: All hail have-a-go heroes who stand up to anti-social behaviour

Maz Moaddabi, who was held up at gunpoint in Norwich earlier this month

Maz Moaddabi, who was held up at gunpoint in Norwich earlier this month - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Helen says anyone who stands up to what is wrong is a hero in her book

I can’t have been the only one to be disgusted to read in this paper last week about the attempted robbery of aNorwich pharmacy. Here was a man going about his legitimate business serving his neighbours when some toe-rag barged into the shop, shoving other customers aside, and demanded immediate attention. But he wasn’t very good at it. He was certainly no match for Maz Moaddabi, the proprietor, a lovely man who I know goes out of his way to help customers in a friendly manner.

The intruder shouted his orders which included a lot of swearing and even waving a gun. But Maz shouted too, even more loudly, so he lost his nerve and barged his way out of the shop, only to be stopped and arrested a while later. The gun turned out to be an air pistol.

Needless to say Mr Moaddabi was a bit shaken by what happened but was cool enough to reflect on what took place. “It was a stupid thing to do but you don’t really think in these situations,” he said.

Three cheers for Maz I say. What he did takes a lot of nerve. It really takes guts to face down somebody who ignores the rules of civilised behaviour.

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Over the years I’ve confronted some people who are anti-social, though never at the level of Maz’s encounter. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been invited to ‘eff off’ when asking somebody to pick up carelessly dropped litter, or pointing out to a white van man that his driving might be a bit below the proper standard.

I don’t suppose any of these episodes might have involved having a gun pointed at me but on reflection I do ask myself the question: Do you or don’t you intervene when something is wrong, even at the risk of personal injury?

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By coincidence, a day after Maz met his would-be robber, I was queuing in the rain outside a different local pharmacy when a tall man dressed in black marched past us and barged straight into the shop.

As I was outside the shop I couldn’t see what he was up to, strutting about. When I got inside I discovered that this toe-rag had simply pushed his way in ignoring the rest of us. The girl ahead of me confirmed that this was the case and gave a nervous laugh.

He did look rather threatening and after he’d strutted out and it was my turn I pointed out to the staff that he’d just pushed in. They did apologise, not knowing the situation. They promised to check him next time before serving him.

You know what they say about short people - we always have to stick up for ourselves even if it might mean a bruising. At school there was one girl who was clearly being bullied. She was a strange girl who used to swap sweets for sweet papers and then eat them. She was teased a lot but I stood by her and took her side until they left her alone. I’m not asking for a medal but I just can’t stand injustice.

Maz Moaddabi said that the community where his shop is have been round to see if he is OK. Good people, community people. Bless them.

On the subject of good people the EDP has been heaping praise on 150 people voted as deserving of a mention.

Somebody that I’d like to add to that list is chef and restaurateur Richard Hughes. He runs the Assembly House in Norwich and in spite of all the problems running a business in the hospitality field he keeps going, helping many young people and bringing diners to his restaurants from all over the country.

He is an inspiration and a damned fine cook to boot – just try his bread and butter pudding!

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