Bravery award for local mum who saved woman’s life
Quick-thinking UCLan student midwife presented with Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award
A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) midwifery student from Oswaldtwistle has been honoured for her bravery after saving a woman’s life.
Sarah Thistlethwaite was handed a Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award after she assisted a woman who was about to take her own life. The Society presents awards annually to people who voluntarily put their own lives or safety at risk to save others.
The mum-of-four saw a woman standing on the wrong side of the flyover between Junctions five and six of the M65 near Knuzden in February 2019 and instinctively stopped her car to help before she jumped.
Sarah managed to keep the woman talking until she was joined by an off-duty police officer who helped her pull the woman to safety.
"As soon as I saw her, I knew there was something wrong so I stopped the car and went straight over. I put my arms around the lady and just kept thinking, I can’t let her fall! "— UCLan midwifery student Sarah Thistlethwaite
Sarah, 41, said: “As soon as I saw her, I knew there was something wrong so I stopped the car and went straight over. I put my arms around the lady and just kept thinking, I can’t let her fall! I acted on instinct more than anything and asked as many questions as I could to keep her talking. I asked if she had family, told her she might feel different tomorrow and tried my best to calm her down.
“I was probably only there for five minutes but it felt like an hour. It was snowing and my baby was in the car but I knew I had to carry on holding her. Thankfully a man who turned out to be an off-duty police officer came over and together we pulled her back to safety.
“It was only when I got home that I reflected on the enormity of what had happened and although it was a traumatic experience, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I often think about the woman and hope she is in a much better place with her mental health.”
"Sarah kept her safe until further help came along. Her brave actions have rightly been recognised by Lancashire Police and it was a privilege to present her with this award."— Lancashire Police’s East Division Headquarters Operations Manager Superintendent Derry Crorken
Sarah’s quick thinking has already resulted in a bravery award from Lancashire Police for assisting a police officer so this additional award came as a surprise. Sarah was presented with a parchment, which is the highest of the Society’s paper awards, and was invited to Lancashire Police’s East Division Headquarters in Blackburn to receive it from Operations Manager Superintendent Derry Crorken.
She said: “I was shocked but it brought back a sense of pride. I feel really honoured to receive it.”
Superintendent Derry Crorken said: “Sarah showed great bravery and thoughtfulness to take care of this woman who was in a vulnerable situation.
“Sarah kept her safe until further help came along. Her brave actions have rightly been recognised by Lancashire Police and it was a privilege to present her with this award.”
Sarah’s own life has changed dramatically since the incident four years ago and she is about to qualify as a midwife after studying at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Burnley Campus.
"My nature is to help people, particularly those who are feeling vulnerable, any maybe that’s what made me stop to help a woman in crisis that particular day. I now want to use these skills to help women in East Lancashire in my role as a midwife. "— UCLan midwifery student Sarah Thistlethwaite
She left behind a 20-year career in community pharmacy based in her hometown to take the plunge in 2020 and go to University. Although a single-mum to four children aged 19 to four, Sarah has juggled her studies with family life for the last few years and is looking forward to serving her local community once she qualifies.
She added: “My nature is to help people, particularly those who are feeling vulnerable, and maybe that’s what made me stop to help a woman in crisis that particular day.
“I now want to use these skills to help women in East Lancashire in my role as a midwife. Retraining hasn’t been easy, but I absolutely love it and received a lot of support from my fantastic tutors. I can’t wait to get started with my new career.”