PCs Brown and Connolley attend Downing Street as part of The National Police Bravery Awards

Two Cheshire Police officers who plunged into a freezing, fast-flowing river to save a woman’s life have been to Downing Street as part of The National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Lee Brown said “I’m really happy to be here today, it’s an honour, especially to be here with Rich and I’m looking forward to the day at Number 10.”

PC Richard Connolley added “I’m really looking forward to going in to Number 10 and it’s an honour to be here today with Lee.”

PC Connolley and PC Brown attended after reports were received of a woman sitting precariously on top of some railings on the Handbridge Suspension Bridge over the River Dee in Chester.

The officers together with colleagues positioned themselves back from the scene so as not to distress the woman any further as she had earlier intimated to her family that she intended to hurt herself. But any attempts to initially engage with the woman failed and she decided to jump into the water below.

The incident took place in the early hours of 31 March last year, so the water was icy cold. The officers could see she was immediately struggling in the river and after a few short seconds, it appeared she had become lifeless.

PC Connolley realised something had to be done so he plunged in after her, using a nearby buoyancy aid to keep himself afloat. Other officers grabbed the rope attached to the PC as he swam out to her, eventually managing to keep her head above the water.

But at this stage of the rescue, the rope suddenly snapped leaving PC Connolley and the woman drifting in the river and struggling to stay afloat. 

PC Brown could see the situation was now life-threatening for both - and he managed to wade into the deep river to forcibly pull his colleague and the woman to safety.

She was taken to hospital and has since made a full recovery.

Cheshire Police Federation Chairman Bryan Kennedy said: “Both officers braved freezing temperatures and fast flowing waters in order to save this woman from drowning. It was a dangerous and difficult situation and the actions of PC Connolley and PC Brown were selfless, courageous and quick thinking.

“Police officers are much more than crime fighters. Without doubt, this brave duo saved this woman’s life and they have acted in the highest traditions of the Cheshire Constabulary.”

PC Connolley and PC Brown will attend a reception and an evening awards ceremony in London in July.

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty. The awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.