Campaigners presented a petition to Downing Street on Tuesday calling for three women who intervened after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby to receive medals for bravery.

More than 85,000 people have signed the petition to award George Medals, given to civilians for acts of courage, to the three, who have been dubbed the "Angels of Woolwich".

Rigby was hit by a car and attacked with a meat cleaver near Woolwich barracks in southeast London on May 22. Two men have been charged with his murder.

In the aftermath of the daylight attack, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett calmly approached one of Lee Rigby's attackers and involved him in conversation, while Amanda Donnelly and her daughter Gemini Donnelly-Martin sat with the 25-year-old soldier and tried to comfort him.

Jesse van der Valk, the rector of the Church of England parish of Woolwich, started the petition at change.org, addressed to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

"They showed great courage, selflessness, compassion, and presence of mind. And their actions brought dignity to Lee at the end of his life," he said.

"I thank everyone who has signed this petition. This large number of signatories shows the overwhelming support there is all over the UK, and indeed the world, to see these women rewarded for their exemplary actions as citizens...

"As we hand in this petition at 10 Downing Street, we want to remember Drummer Lee Rigby, and to give thanks for his life as a son, husband, father and soldier."

Amanda Donnelly told the Sunday People newspaper that she and her daughter did not feel they deserved medals and that if she received one she would give it to Rigby's two-year-old son.

"He's going to grow up without a dad now, which is so sad, so it may give him something to hold on to," she said.

"But really we don't want medals. We don't feel we deserve them. All we did was act on instinct."

The petition says that "the fact that no other bystander was hurt in the incident is testament to the courageous actions of these women.

"As the people of Woolwich come to terms with what happened here, coming together to honour the heroines of that day will send a positive message of unity and peace."

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