British 'hero' not forgotten by friends

Before escorting Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to a parade during her recent visit to Utah, Richard H. Madsen found a quiet moment to talk with her about a man who had touched both their lives.

The UK-Utah Festival Chairman, chief executive officer of ZCMI department stores and president of the Salt Lake Mt. Olympus Stake told Lady Thatcher of his 1960 encounter with Fred Bishop - a man who would 24 years later help rescue the then-prime minister and members of her cabinet after a bomb exploded in their hotel.While serving as a full-time missionary in Brighton, England, Elder Madsen met Fred Bishop - then a 17-year-old who associated with a rowdy group of teen-age boys. One night, young Fred Bishop and his friends had been "looking for trouble" and found themselves in the Brighton Chapel, where Elder Madsen and his companion were conducting a youth activity.

"We had a bit of a problem on our hand," Pres. Madsen remembered. "We were scared to death."

After a while, all but one teen left the chapel. Fred Bishop stayed behind to talk. He wanted to ask one question that his teachers and ministers had never been able to answer.

In a Church News telephone interview, Brother Bishop remembered saying, " `You have answers to everything, so tell me who created everything? Who created God?' "

The branch president, who was also at the chapel, told the young man about the creation, about Heavenly Father and Jesus and how he could become like them. "I knew what he was saying was absolutely true," Brother Bishop recalled.

A few weeks later, April 20, 1960, Elder Madsen baptized the young "trouble maker."

The pair communicated for a few years after Elder Madsen left the mission field, but eventually they lost contact.

Then in 1984, Brother Bishop's name made national and international headlines.

An Irish Republican Army bomb ripped apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton, killing five people and injuring many others. Lady Thatcher and members of her Cabinet were staying in the hotel for the Tory Party Conference.

Brother Bishop - a fireman - organized rescue attempts, escorted Lady Thatcher out of the building and helped four other people.

"I was concerned there were people who were trapped and that we had to rescue, I was concerned for the safety of my own men and I was concerned that there was another bomb in the building," he remembered, explaining that he did not have time to realize his actions were heroic.

But for those actions and his other work in the fire service, Brother Bishop received one of England's highest awards at Buckingham Palace from Queen Elizabeth.

Pres. Madsen has an envelope filled with newspaper articles lauding his British friend, as well as photographs of Brother Bishop in front of Buckingham Palace.

During a business trip to England last December, Pres. Madsen told a former TV reporter - who had covered the hotel bombing - about his friend, never mentioning his name. Instantly the reporter knew he was speaking of Fred Bishop. He provided Pres. Madsen with Brother Bishop's phone number.

The old friends met again and introduced each other to their wives.

Brother Bishop was able to tell Pres. Madsen about his many years of Church service as a branch president, bishop's counselor and high councilor. He also was able to tell his old friend of the impact the Church had made in his life.

Brother Bishop believes he was protected the night he fought the fire in the Grand Hotel and on many other occasions. "People ask, Does it (the Church) make a difference?' " he said. "I say,absolutely.' "

Brother Bishop said he will always be grateful for Pres. Madsen.

"It is amazing how things happen," Brother Bishop said. "[Pres. Madsen] is a special person in my life, that is for sure. I will never, ever forget that man."

During his meeting with Lady Thatcher, Pres. Madsen asked her to autograph a picture of Brother Bishop standing in front of Buckingham Palace. The former Prime Minister wrote, "All good wishes, Margaret Thatcher."

Pres. Madsen plans to mail the photograph to his friend in England - hoping Brother Bishop will instantly see the link that united Brother Madsen and Lady Thatcher for a few brief minutes.

Pres. Madsen called it a privilege to talk with Lady Thatcher - for he and she value the work and life of Fred Bishop.

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