Bexhill lifesavers honoured

Galley Hill
Galley Hill

Three emergency service personnel and two local policemen who fought a life and death battle to stop a suicidal woman jumping to her death from cliffs at Galley Hill, Bexhill, have been awarded top national life-saving honours.

PC Ben Woods is to receive a Royal Humane Society testimonial on parchment. And PC Ben Barnatt, ambulance duty officer Giles Adams, emergency care worker Laura Huggett, and paramedic John Middleton are to receive commendations from the Society.

All the rescuers placed themselves in danger but at the end of the day they saved the woman’s life

Dick Wilkinson

Today the five also won the personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, secretary of the Royal Humane Society as he announced the awards at the Society’s London headquarters.

The incident happened in stormy weather on the afternoon of August 30 last year.

Describing what took place Dick Wilkinson said : “The woman, who had cut her arms, was sitting on the edge of the crumbling and unstable 50 ft high cliffs in a force five to six wind and threatening to jump.

“PC Barnatt got within ten feet of her but she refused to talk to him. She did talk to one of the ambulance crew who arrived but kept raising her arms and threatening to jump.

“Then she raised her arms in the air and lost her balance and slipped forward over the edge. PC Woods rushed forward and managed to grab her arm.

“He was then lying on the edge supporting the woman and could himself have been pulled over.

“However, Laura Huggett and John Middleton grabbed his belt and managed to pull him and the woman back from the edge with Giles Adams assisting them.

“All five of them then then moved her to a safe location. But this was an incident which could have gone badly wrong at any time.

“All the rescuers placed themselves in danger but at the end of the day they saved the woman’s life. They richly deserve the awards they are to receive.”

No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the awards but it is expected to take place in the near future.

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. Its president is Princess Alexandra and it is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

It was founded in 1774 by two of the day’s eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan. Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation.

However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.

The Society also awards non health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation. Since it was set up the Society has considered over 86,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards. The Society is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.