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Police officer who saved two people from drowning in River Trent in separate incidents honoured

A hero police officer has won national recognition for two life-saving rescues from the River Trent.

Police Constable Nick Lewis drew on his experience with the Nottinghamshire County Swim Squad to rescue both a 12-year-old girl and a woman from the river in separate incidents.

He attended the 2022 Police Federation of England and Wales Annual Police Bravery Awards on Thursday 14 July 2022, where he was shortlisted alongside 75 other officers from forces across the country.

PC Lewis said: “It was a fantastic evening and an honour to attend the ceremony and represent Nottinghamshire Police.

“There were 75 other officers and to hear their stories, meet some of them and celebrate such brilliant policing was a fantastic experience.”

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The regional winner for the East Midlands was Lincolnshire-based Police Constable Steven Denniss who arrested a double murder suspect despite being stabbed himself while off-duty.

He went on to win the overall national award, sponsored by Police Mutual.

“Steven was a very worthy winner and it was amazing to hear more about his story on the night and meet him,” PC Lewis, who serves in the city centre, said.

In the first incident PC Lewis was nominated for, the quick-thinking officer took off his stab vest and equipment belt and jumped into the river in Nottingham as the girl struggled to stay afloat.

She was struggling to keep her head above the water due to the thick and woollen clothing that she was wearing, and she repeatedly dipped under the surface of the water.

PC Lewis managed to grab her hand but had to swim hard to ensure they both returned to the river bank safely.

He was supported by his colleague Sergeant Declan Bourne who was able to direct him to the submerged girl from the riverbank.

She had earlier been spotted close to County Hall, near to the Victoria Embankment, before going into the river on the night of 6 June 2021.

PC Lewis said: “I spotted her going down the steps at the Embankment and I was really shocked to see her leap into the water. I wasn’t quite expecting that, but I only had seconds to think and go in after her.

“The current had already taken her about 20 metres away from the sides and she was quickly heading downstream towards Trent Bridge.

“She was wearing really heavy clothing, like a woollen poncho, so she was incredibly heavy and it took a lot more effort than I anticipated to keep her head above water.

“As I was swimming out to her I could see her head repeatedly go under the water, but thankfully I was able to get to her in the nick of time.

“I’ve swam most of my life and I was actually part of the county’s swimming squad when I was younger. I think that massively helped as I’m quite a strong swimmer and had a lot of time in the water over the years.”

The girl thankfully wasn’t injured following the incident and was reunited with her mother at hospital that evening.

PC Lewis again used his open water swimming experience to prevent a woman from going under the water after she entered the Trent on the afternoon of 26 August 2021.

His strength in the water and calming words towards to the woman prevented the situation from becoming worse as he battled to save her life.

The bravery awards saw nominees from 39 forces in England and Wales honoured for their bravery in the line of duty at a ceremony in London.

Simon Riley, chair of the Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said: “PC Lewis acted without any second thought or hesitation, twice in the space of two months, in order to save the lives of two people.

“He 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 people in difficulty, in what is an extremely dangerous stretch of the River Trent.

“Without his selfless actions and bravery, both would have undoubtedly drowned.”

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