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Two Cheshire Police officers who jumped into an icy river at night to save a woman in distress attended the National Police Bravery Awards.
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
The pair were nominated for an award after they rescued a woman from the River Mersey in Warrington last year.
They attended the ceremony in London on Friday 9 December along with their partners and Cheshire Police Federation Chair DC Jamie Thompson. They were also joined by Chief Constable Mark Roberts and Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, John Dwyer.
The two sergeants were also given a tour of parliament by MP Andy Carter and attended a reception at Downing Street, hosted by the Home Secretary Priti Patel.
DS Joe McNally said of being nominated for the award:
“I have been extremely proud to be nominated for a National Bravery Award 2021 and to attend the ceremony on behalf of Cheshire Constabulary.
“The experience that both myself and my wife shared with the police family from all around the country has been extremely humbling.
“The support we have received from our federation colleagues Jamie Thompson and Dave Howard throughout this journey has been overwhelming.
“It is times like this that you do feel extremely valued as police officer and it will only motivate us further to do the best we can to support members of the public in their time of need.”
DS Dave Schofield added:
“To be nominated for the National Bravery Award 2021 was an honour and a proud moment for me and my family. Spending time with colleagues from around the country and hearing their stories of exceptional bravery and courage was both humbling and inspiring.
“To share our stories and experiences made me realise how wide the police family actually is and we should remember that we are valued by the public and we do make a positive difference to people’s lives. I’d like to thank Jamie, Dave and the Cheshire Federation for all they have do for us over the past couple of days to make attending the awards a once in a lifetime experience.”
In mid-March 2020, the two sergeants were called to the River Mersey in the early hours of the morning after a member of the public contacted police saying a woman had jumped into the river.
When they arrived at the scene, they couldn’t see the woman, but patrols identified the approximate area of the river the woman had entered and saw that she was submerged under the water.
They immediately climbed over the barrier and jumped down a high drop onto a small river bank. The river bank was incredibly muddy, however they managed to get into the river and swim to the woman.
The officers reached the woman and lifted her above water level, but she was incredibly distressed and fought aggressively with the officers to try and get back under the water.
The situation was extremely dangerous and difficult for the officers due to the fast flow of the river, the cold temperature of the river and the rain, and the lack of a viable exit from the river.
They managed to drag the woman along the side of the river and on to the bank, where the fire service had arrived and had dropped a ladder down.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) attended the scene and assisted in getting the woman off the river bank and up the wall, back over the barrier. CFRS and NWAS both praised the two sergeants for their actions and said what they had done was above and beyond what was expected of them.
The woman was taken to hospital to be assessed. While at hospital, she thanked the officers for helping her.
Sgt McNally and Sgt Schofield also attended hospital to receive treatment for exposure to the cold and wet, and received preventative inoculations against diseases river water can carry.
Cheshire Police Federation Chair Jamie Thompson said:
“Police officers are much more than crime fighters – and this incident once again proves just that.
“Joe and Dave put their own safety aside and acted instinctively to rescue the woman. Not only were they selfless in their actions, but they ensured other officers at the scene were kept safe by directing them not to climb over the barriers onto the riverbank.
“I have no doubt that if it was not for the brave actions of these officers the woman would not be alive. We are very proud of them.”
As well as being nominated for The National Bravery Awards, Sgt McNally and Sgt Schofield have received a Chief Constable’s Commendation.