“I only did what any other officer would have done in my positon” was the humble response of a police officer as she risked her own life in order to stop a rampaging killer.
On Good Friday last year, April 19, it was a normal day like any other for PC Kay Yelland when a call came it to say a man had been smearing crosses in blood on children’s heads.
As she rushed to the scene with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, the force control room made her aware that the same man had stolen a car and was driving at high speed through the streets of Sutton-in-Ashfield.
It later transpired that 40-year-old Gavin Collins, who was high on drugs at the time, had run over and killed 87-year-old Terry Radford.
PC Yelland knew that she was the first responder to the incident and, for the very first time, has described her thoughts and feelings as she travelled to the scene and how she used her car as a barrier to stop Collins.
She has shared her story as part of the unique Notts Police: Operation 2020 documentary being broadcast on Notts TV, the force YouTube channel and the Nottinghamshire Police Facebook page on Saturday (28 November).
What follows is her dramatic account of the events on that day.
She said: “I travelled to the scene from Mansfield Police Station and as I was driving the control room updated me that they believed the man had just kidnapped a woman and run over an elderly gentleman who needed urgent medical attention.
“The control room gave me the details of the vehicle, which was a SEAT Leon and I remember looking for that vehicle coming towards me as I was coming down Mansfield Woodhouse High Street.
“I thought if I saw the car coming then I would turn my car into of it to stop him harming anybody else.
“So I continued on towards Worcester Avenue where I saw him coming off someone’s driveway and I put my vehicle in front of his car to try and block him in but then he proceeded to ram my police vehicle and we were sort of nose to nose on the street.”
Collins had run over a man and PC Yelland saw that he was in a serious condition.
She said: “I could see that there were several people at the bus stop and there was an elderly gentleman lying on the floor and his legs were crushed and his walking stick out to the side.
“I remember thinking, if the male (Collins) got out the car then I would run him over but he didn’t get out, I got out of my car and then he got out of his.
“There was sort of a bit of a confrontation, him shouting threats towards me.
“He got back in the car, reversed through somebody’s wall on Melbourne Street and proceeded to ram my police vehicle and I thought while he’s doing that at least he’s not going around hurting anybody else.
“I was just trying to keep him there at the scene until help arrived.”
“All I could think is I have got to stop him before he goes on to cause any further injury,” added the officer. “He was capable of killing again and so I had to stop him.”
PC Yelland’s remarkable act of bravery allowed officers to attend the scene and apprehend Collins, originally from Tibshelf. He was subsequently convicted of manslaughter by diminished responsibility and sentenced to a minimum of 14 years imprisonment in July this year.
PC Yelland’s actions have been recognised by Nottinghamshire Police, who has awarded her with the PC Ged Walker award.
The award is named in Ged’s memory after he was killed on duty in 2003. The award winner is each year chosen in person by his widow Tracy Walker.
She said: “I think when I read the scenario that Kay had gone through, she showed the determination that I thought Ged would have shown by not letting this offender go at all costs.
“She electively to chose to put herself in a position where she could have been harmed and she didn’t know what the end result would be.”
Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford added: “The actions of PC Yelland were truly outstanding.
“Her bravery and determination in the face of life-threatening danger was not only inspiring but also probably prohibited Collins from harming anyone else. This sort of action goes above and beyond anything else and is truly remarkable and I am very proud to be able to present her with this award in recognition of just what a brave cop she is.
“Her actions typify what it means to be a police officer in our force and I am incredibly proud to say that she is an officer at Nottinghamshire Police.”
When she reflects on her award win, PC Yelland feels that she did not do anything that her colleagues wouldn’t have done in that situation.
She said: “You don’t really think about it when you’re at work, you just react as you’re trained to but it’s sort of when you get home that it can hit you afterwards.
“I am a mum, I am a wife as well as police officer so yeah it can impact you but there are services that can help.
“It’s a huge honour and I was completely shocked when I was told that I had won this award.
“Basically, I didn’t think I’d done anything that other police officers wouldn’t do – my colleagues certainly, other officers on my shift.
“Police officers every day put their lives at risk to help people and protect the public. I’m sure if anyone else would have got that call at the same time I was there they would have done exactly the same as I did.”
Watch Kay’s full interview along with an introduction from, PC Ged Walker’s widow, Tracy.