Two Uckfield police will receive top national bravery awards by Royal approval for their part in a horror incident in the town last November.
PCs Katrina Davies and James Smith have each been awarded Royal Humane Society Testimonials on Vellum which have been personally approved and will be signed by President Princess Alexandra. The awards follow an incident on the afternoon of November 11 in which an Uckfield man doused himself in petrol and was threatening to set fire to himself. It happened not far from Harlands Primary School.
As well as the awards they are to receive, the two officers also won personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, Royal Humane Society secretary. He said: “If this man, who was soaked in petrol and carrying a lighter and a can of petrol, had carried out his threat these two officers could easily have been badly burned. They didn’t hesitate to try and prevent him carrying out his threat despite the danger which must have been obvious to them. They richly deserve the awards they are to receive.”
Describing what happened Mr Wilkinson continued: “A man called police to report his adult son doused himself with petrol and left the house saying he intended to harm himself. The two officers searched the area and found the man in a nearby park. He was soaked in petrol and carrying a petrol can in one hand and a lighter in the other. When they spoke to him he ignored their requests to put the items down. Further assistance was called for but before anyone else arrived, he shouted ‘I’m going to do it.’
“The officers assumed he was going to set fire to himself and ran forward to prevent him. PC Smith grabbed the hand with the lighter and enclosed it. He could feel the sparking wheel moving against his hand as the man tried to carry out his threat.
“If he had, the two officers would have gone up in flames as well as by the end of it they were also covered in petrol. What they did was extremely brave.”
No date has been fixed for the presentation, made following a recommendation from Sussex Police, but it is expected to take place in the near future.
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