Ringmer St John Ambulance first aiders win national award for saving suicidal man’s life

Two Ringmer first aiders who talked down a young suicidal man from a cliff edge have won a national award.

St John Ambulance first aiders Alicia Lord, 21, (known as Li), and Lydia Hancock, 19, were on duty at the Brighton Marathon in April this year when the alarming incident happened.

The pair – who were then the newest adult first airders in the Ringmer unit – were on foot patrol with three St John cadets and came across the young man sitting dangerously close to the edge of a steep cliff.

Correctly believing him to be at risk of suicide, they took the cadets away from potential harm before approaching the man.

With immense skill and courage, they managed to talk the man away from the cliff edge after 40 minutes and into an ambulance where he could receive further help.

The pair were named as winners of the Volunteer Hero category at the charity’s annual Everyday Heroes awards on Monday night (October 7).

Alicia Lord and Lydia Hancock. Photo by Johnny Green

Alicia Lord and Lydia Hancock. Photo by Johnny Green

Now in its eighth year, the event, sponsored by Zoll, honours individuals, volunteers and teams who step forward in their communities and in the moments that matter to help loved ones, colleagues, customers or even strangers in need.

Lydia said: “It was surreal to hear our names announced as the award winners.

“It was the last thing I expected. Anyone would have done the same thing and there were some amazing people nominated in our category.

“I feel honoured and very grateful to St John for the support the charity has given me.”

Li added: “This award was very unexpected. I was attending the awards to hear everyone else’s stories!”

As well as recognising volunteers, Everyday Heroes also celebrated the bravery, courage and lifesaving skills of young people, and rewards the kindness of strangers, colleagues and St John volunteers in three other categories: Young Hero, Workplace Hero and Community Hero.

The awards were hosted for the second time by Reverend Richard Coles, celebrity vicar and one half of 80s band The Communards. 

Mr Coles said: “I was honoured to be invited to host the Everyday Heroes awards again this year and had no doubt that I’d hear another set of amazing stories – I certainly haven’t been disappointed.

“The young people commended tonight have really stood out and I believe the future of our communities is in good hands if they are anything to go by.

“I hope their stories will inspire many others to volunteer, learn new skills and be confident to help when it really matters.”

St John Ambulance’s chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown congratulated all the award winners: “This evening I have had the honour of celebrating with the truly incredible ordinary people whose moments of extraordinary heroism allow us to put their humanity, care and courage in the spotlight.

“Many of these are young people, who are the healthcare professionals and community leaders of the future, and their courage is just what our communities need and want.

“St John has been equipping people like this for 140 years and I am delighted that we can honour this long history with a celebration of our Everyday Heroes tonight.”

For more information on St John Ambulance, including how to make a donation, volunteering opportunities, and details of training for the public, schools and businesses, visit www.sja.org.uk.