Nottinghamshire PC Nick Lewis has been honoured at the national Police Bravery Awards in London after he showed outstanding courage in two separate incidents.
PC Lewis was accompanied by his fiancée Gemma Jackson, who is also a serving Nottinghamshire Police officer, as he joined fellow nominees from across the country at a Downing Street reception hosted by Home Secretary Priti Patel who praised their “incredible courage”.
The couple and the other police officers and their guests then attended the awards presentation ceremony at a central London hotel later that evening.
Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Craig Guildford and Police Federation branch chair Simon Riley were among the guests.
In the first incident for which PC Lewis was nominated, a 12-year-old girl presented herself to staff at a supermarket in Nottingham stating that she did not want to return home after a family fall-out.
Staff tried to stay with her until police officers arrived but she ran away. The girl was spotted at a busy junction and PC Lewis, single crewed at the time, tried to catch up with her.
She jumped into the River Trent, at a point where it is wide and fast-flowing with dangerous undercurrents.
Without hesitation, he took off his stab vest and equipment belt and jumped into the river after the girl who was struggling to keep her head above the water, due to the thick and woollen clothing that she was wearing.
PC Lewis swam out to her and due to the amount of weight the water-soaked clothes had taken on, had to battle and swim hard to ensure they both returned to the side of the river.
The officers did not stop attending to the child until she was out of the water on the bank and in the care of colleagues who had arrived at the scene.
Only after he had completed the rescue did PC Lewis make an assessment of his own health and wellbeing. His actions undoubtedly saved the life of the young girl.
In the second incident, a woman was seen to jump off a bridge and into the centre of the River Trent, in an attempt to take her own life.
PC Lewis, who was tutoring a very young in-service colleague, arrived on the scene just as she jumped into the river.
Using his previous experience of open water swimming, he managed to prevent the woman from going under the water but experienced some resistance from her as she tried to kick away from him to continue to go under the water.
This made the rescue more hazardous for PC Lewis to keep them both afloat. The combination of his personal strength and his calming words towards the female, prevented the situation from becoming worse.
Simon said: “Nick acted without any second thought or hesitation twice in the space of two months, in order to save the lives of two people.
“Nick showed huge personal bravery in entering the water, without any thought for his own safety on both of these occasions in order to effect the rescue of two females in difficulty, in what is an extremely dangerous stretch of the River Trent.
“Without his selfless actions and bravery, both would have undoubtedly drowned.”
Speaking at the Downing Street reception, Ms Patel told the nominees: “I am delighted to be able to celebrate with you, once again, the incredible courage of a remarkable group of police officers.
“Your work involves an extraordinary degree of sacrifice that should never be taken for granted. These awards play an important part in ensuring your deeds are recognised.
“I would like to thank the organisers of the 2022 awards, the Police Federation, and Police Mutual for their continued support for the event.”
The officers also received warm praise and a message of thanks from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He said: “These acts of bravery, honoured here today by your colleagues and the public, are outstanding and in the finest traditions of policing. I salute each and every one of the fantastic nominees at the awards. You are truly the best of the very best.
“It is absolutely right and proper that we honour and celebrate the work of our brave men and women in uniform who work day in and day out to protect the public.
“The progress we are making towards recruiting 20,000 more officers gives me full confidence that together we will make our streets safer. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Police Federation national chair Steve Hartshorn said: “Tonight, we heard extraordinary stories of bravery, selflessness and acts of courage that are not just part of the job.
“The bravery shown by these nominees is truly outstanding. From putting their own lives at risk to save others, facing violent attackers and terrifying weapons, to rescuing people from perilous situations in fast flowing water or stranded hundreds of feet in the air, they have faced danger head on.”
The annual bravery awards are organised by the Police Federation and sponsored by Police Mutual.
This year’s overall winner was Lincolnshire Police’s PC Steven Denniss who was stabbed as he tackled a double murder suspect he has spotted while off duty and out walking his dogs.