Heroes honoured at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Awards

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards 2016. The award recipients.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards 2016. The award recipients.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

They are the men and women who stand ready, day and night, to put their lives on the line to save people in their hour of greatest need.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards 2016. Ben Lewis, 10, with Alan Churchman, right, and Philip S

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards 2016. Ben Lewis, 10, with Alan Churchman, right, and Philip Soanes. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And last night, the bravery and service of firefighters from across Norfolk was recognised at the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Awards ceremony, held at Norwich Castle.

The event was particularly special for Ben Lewis, who came with his family to honour two off-duty Great Yarmouth firefighters who cared for him after he was knocked off his bike by a car 12 months ago.

Alan Churchman, from Great Yarmouth Red Watch, and Philip Soanes, from Great Yarmouth Green Watch, had been fixing a leak in Mr Soanes's Volkswagen camper van when they heard a screech of tyres and a nasty thud, and saw Ben, then aged nine, lying on the road.

Mr Churchman grabbed his trauma bag from his house.

Initially, Ben appeared not to be breathing, but started again after Mr Soanes checked his airways.

The two firefighters continued to comfort Ben, and his very shocked mum and other family members, until the ambulance arrived.

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He was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where he underwent surgery.

Since then, he has had a number of scans, and was unable to play his beloved football for several weeks, but has now made a full recovery, with just a scar to remind him of his ordeal.

Speaking after the ceremony where she presented the firefighters with a certificate of commendation, Ben's mother Alisha described what happened after she received the phone call that every parent dreads.

She said that, as she got in her car to rush to the scene, she was almost physically unable to drive because her urge to run to her son was so great.

She did drive, and said: 'I could see Ben lying on the pavement. It's a parent's worst nightmare. The firemen were there and had him in the recovery position.

'There was blood on the pavement from his head and he was screaming out in pain.

'I could not do anything; I felt really helpless.

'As a mum you want to protect him but could not, but luckily they were there and could protect him.'

She added: 'I will never be able to repay them. There's not enough thank yous, so just to come here and to see they are getting some recognition is wonderful.

'I'm grateful to them every second of every day.'

At the ceremony, Richard Jewson, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, thanked the gathered firefighters on behalf of the community for their work, and expressed gratitude to the families who support them.

Other special guests at the event included the High Sheriff, Nicholas Pratt, and the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Brenda Arthur.

Do you have a local hero you would like to thank? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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