AN AUSTRALIAN tourist who stopped a woman from jumping off a bridge in Edinburgh, a 16-year-old who helped at the scene of a road traffic accident and a policeman who rescued a distressed 14-year-old girl from the sea are among the people whose heroic acts of bravery have been honoured.
They were three of 24 real-life heroes whose selfless actions were commended in the face of house fires, dog attacks, tending to distressed individuals, road traffic incidents and the Clutha Vaults tragedy.
First Minister Alex Salmond told the Brave@Heart award winners that “your selflessness, compassion and courage is inspiring” at a special ceremony in Edinburgh Castle last night.
People from all walks of life were commended for their courage at the awards – run by the Scottish Government – which recognise and celebrate acts of bravery by staff of the “blue-light services”, voluntary sector rescue organisations and members of the public.
Among the recipients of the fifth Brave@Heart awards were Shadiya Chaib, who was on holiday from Australia when she saved a woman from jumping off the Dean Bridge in Edinburgh. Despite violent struggles as the woman tried to break loose and kill herself, Ms Chaib held tight to her until passers-by came to her assistance.
Ms Chaib, who travelled from Melbourne, Australia, to receive her reward, said: “It’s never something you can prepare yourself for. My instincts kicked in and all I could focus on was stopping this woman from jumping. I’m so happy to be back in Edinburgh, which feels like my second home, and it is a real honour to receive such an award.”
Another winner was Shona Chalmers, 16, from St Andrews, who was on her way to first aid training with her mother one evening when they witnessed an elderly man being hit by a car. While her mother attended to the casualty, Ms Chalmers calmly took charge of directing traffic around the incident to protect her mother and the casualty.
Another recipient was Constable Garrett Hughes, from Prestonpans, who, despite December weather and rough conditions, waded into the sea to rescue an unconscious 14-year-old girl who had attempted suicide.
There was also two separate Brave@Heart awards for responders to the Clutha Vaults tragedy of last November.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Stuart English, from Paisley, was off duty and relaxing in the Glasgow bar when the helicopter came crashing through the roof. He managed to get out but re-entered with members of the public in an attempt to rescue those trapped and injured. He lifted fallen debris including the bar gantry which enabled others to release a trapped person.
Paramedic Paul Stewart and ambulance technician Jacqueline Donald arrived less than one minute after the helicopter crash to find a chaotic scene. They briefed the Scottish Ambulance Service then, without consideration for their own safety, entered the building which was in darkness and filled with dust and debris.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “The individual acts we’re marking are exceptional and they are worthy of special recognition. However, they are also examples of solidarity, of concern for our neighbours, which runs deep in our communities.”
In total, 20 professionals and four members of the public received Brave@Heart awards.