Dad who risked life to save girl dragged to sea among Pride of Manchester Award winners

Ordinary people who have carried out extraordinary acts to save others will be honoured in a special celebration on Thursday night.

Despite coronavirus restrictions ruling out a red carpet event, the MEN Pride of Manchester Awards, in partnership with TSB, are back to honour the incredible winners.

The ceremony will be screened on YouTube tonight and host Kym Marsh, 44, said it is close to her heart.

The ex-Corrie star added: “I loved meeting this year’s amazing winners.

“You can’t help but be inspired by their stories and I know it’s going to be a wonderful show.”

The winners will go forward to the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, which will be screened on ITV in the autumn.

Leroy Holcroft received the Outstanding Bravery Award after risking his life to save a girl being dragged out to sea on a bodyboard.

The dad of two, from Urmston, Greater Manchester, was with his wife Rosie and kids Alf, 11, and Flo, six, when they saw the teenager in danger in Anglesey, North-West Wales.

Primary school teacher Leroy, 40, said: “A girl ran up the beach screaming and crying.

“She said her friend had never had a swimming lesson, was being washed out to sea and was going to die.”

The tide had dragged the girl out about 400m and Rosie dialled 999 as Leroy waded into the water.

He said: “I put everything I had into getting to the girl and by the time I got to her I had nothing left.”

The current was pulling him under, so he lay under the bodyboard and held on to it while keeping her calm.

Child of Courage winner Mia Hignett was eight when her mum Helen had a seizure at home.

Now nine, Mia recalls: “I was downstairs playing a game when I heard a big bang. I went upstairs and my mum was on the floor. I dialled 999 and the operator asked me if she was responsive and she wasn’t. I had to put her in the recovery position.”

Once Helen was breathing, Mia looked after her baby sister until medics arrived.

Helen, 38, is a retired police officer who worked for Greater Manchester Police. She was left registered disabled after being attacked on duty 10 years ago.

Mia already had a Blue Peter gold badge and a lifesaver’s award from North West Ambulance Service. The Blue Peter team presented her with her Pride of Manchester award. Helen, from Middlewich in Cheshire, says: “I cannot thank her enough.”

It was New Year’s Eve 2018 and Manchester’s Victoria Station was buzzing with revellers.

Sgt Lee Valentine and his team were patrolling the concourse when they heard blood-curdling screams.

Mahdi Mohamud had repeatedly stabbed a couple in their 50s on the platform.

Sgt Valentine and his team immediately ran to the scene and apprehended the terrorist with pepper spray and a Taser, but not before Sgt Valentine was stabbed in the shoulder by Mohamud, 26.

The sergeant and his colleagues DC Marsha Selby, 29, DC Ashleigh Williams, 28, DC Tom Wright, 28, and Metrolink staff Adam Ward, 28, and Miah Uddin, 39, won the Pride of Manchester Emergency Services Award for their heroism.

Sgt Valentine said: “It was lucky we were there on the concourse…I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t had been there. He had two knives.”

He added: “There is a lot of criticism of the police and it does knock you a bit.

“So to get something like this, positive recognition, it reminds you that people do respect the police.”

Mohamud was jailed for life for three counts of attempted murder.