Suffolk Pc up for life saving award

A POLICEMAN who saved a drowning woman from a freezing river has been nominated for a top life saving award.Pc Neil Smith, a dog handler with Suffolk police, rescued the woman by using his dog's lead to lower himself into the River Orwell and grabbing her.

A POLICEMAN who saved a drowning woman from a freezing river has been nominated for a top life saving award.

Pc Neil Smith, a dog handler with Suffolk police, rescued the woman by using his dog's lead to lower himself into the River Orwell and grabbing her.

He has been shortlisted for a Vodafone Life Savers Award and, if successful, he will be invited to meet the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

Pc Smith, 36, was the first to arrive at the incident scene at Stoke Bridge, near Ipswich, on December 14 last year after a 999 call.

He saw the distressed woman submerged to her waist in water, clinging to a chain connected to a wall and standing on a ledge no more than a foot in width.

The policeman rushed back to his van, grabbed his dog tracking lead and tied it to a ring inset in the concrete wall.

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He took off his coat and lowered himself over the steep embankment to the water and on to the ledge, where the woman put her arms around him.

By this time, the fire service had arrived and lowered a rope which Pc Smith managed to tie around the waist of the woman with one hand while clinging onto the lead with the other.

The woman, who had collapsed due to the extreme cold, was pulled to safety by the fire crew but Pc Smith was too cold and exhausted to pull himself up.

They dropped another rope which Pc Smith looped around his body and he was pulled back up to the side of the embankment.

Pc Smith has already earned a Testimonial on Parchment from the Royal Humane Society for his act of bravery and is now in line for further recognition.

The Life Savers Awards – which highlight unsung heroes – are presented by Vodafone in recognition of the role mobile phones can play in high-pressure situations.

Gavin Darby, UK chief executive for Vodafone, said: "Pc Smith's rescue efforts played a crucial part in helping save the life of another.

"He thoroughly deserved to be nominated for these special awards, which celebrate human compassion and achievement."

Judges, including Falklands veteran Simon Weston and TV presenter Anthea Turner, will choose the 10 winners when the competition closes on July 4.

They will be invited to a reception with the Prime Minister before a glittering ceremony at the Savoy Hotel in London.

Pc Smith has remained modest about his feat, saying he simply did what the next person would have done.

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