Two Norfolk police officers have tonight been recognised at a national awards ceremony after risking their lives to rescue a suicidal man from the sea at Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth.

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Sergeant Ashley Waterhouse and PC Adamjames Hovells followed a suicidal man into the freezing sea during in the seaside resort.

They tried to stop him as he walked on a cliff top in the wind and snow, but he scrambled down the cliff and ran towards the sea. Even though it was -8C, Sgt Waterhouse followed him into the sea.

The man struggled with him so PC Hovells also got into the water to help and the pair managed to get him to shore and stop him from breaking free before help arrived.

The officers, who then changed their clothes and continued their shift following the incident at about noon on December 2010, were nominated for the annual Police Bravery Awards held in London.

And the pair, who have already received Royal Humane Society awards and Chief Constable’s Commendations for this incident, were rewarded again after being named winners of one of the eight regional awards at the ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony held in the City of London, Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The extremely brave actions of Sgt Waterhouse and PC Hovells clearly demonstrate the lengths police officers are prepared to go to protect the public. In extremely challenging conditions, these officers acted without any regard for their own safety. Tonight we commend their bravery.”

Norfolk police’s Detective Inspector Richard Graveling, who was Inspector for Gorleston at the time of the incident in Yarmouth, also commended their bravery.

He said: “These officers selflessly entered the sea, in freezing conditions on the coldest day of the year, to save a life and the awards they have received for their actions are highly deserved.

“Had they not reacted quickly, this man would almost certainly have drowned or died of hypothermia. They are a credit to Norfolk Constabulary and the people of Gorleston.”

The regional winners were chosen from among 53 officers who were nominated for the annual Police Bravery Awards, held yesterday in the capital.

Other winners included PC David Williams and Sergeants Stuart Wells, Andrew Jackson and Darren Heyes from West Mercia who risked their lives to free a couple from a burning car.

They braved fierce flames and smoke as they battled to rescue the pair from the wreckage of a crash that left two other people dead.

All the nominees were honoured with a lunchtime reception at Downing Street ahead of the awards ceremony.

David Cameron was not at Number 10 because he was out of the country, but Home Secretary Theresa May attended the awards.

The event has a particular resonance this year following the deaths of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes who were shot after attending what appeared to be a routine burglary call in Hattersley, Greater Manchester.

Off-duty PC Ian Dibell from Essex Police also lost his life when he was gunned down as he went to help a neighbour who was being attacked.

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