On Tuesday 24th January 2017, whilst scrolling through my Twitter feed, I came across the stories of three very remarkable men.
Stories of quite astonishing courage.
But, aside from a passing mention in a couple of newspapers they seem, largely, to have been overlooked by the mainstream media – and that doesn’t seem right to me.
So I want to tell you the stories of Nathan Lucy, Andrew Wright and Martin Finney – some of the finest and bravest people you could ever hope to meet.
PC Nathan Lucy QGM is a Hampshire Police Dog Handler.
In April 2014, a vulnerable woman jumped into the sea at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. PC Lucy responded and, as she drifted on the current, he ran ahead of her on three separate occasions, calling for her to come in.
She didn’t respond.
At that point, PC Lucy made a simple choice.
He risked his own life in order to save the life of a complete stranger.
He grabbed a life ring and jumped into the sea. He swam out to the woman and, as he approached her, she kicked him in the chest. He managed to grab hold of her and she pushed him under the water.
As he resurfaced, he pulled her towards him again and took hold of the ring. At that moment, a member of the public began to pull them both in.
The woman continued to resist until appearing to lose consciousness. PC Lucy kept her head above the water and managed to get her to shore, where she received emergency treatment before being taken to hospital.
PC Lucy has been awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal for his exemplary act of bravery.
I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him, but I salute him.
PS Andrew Wright QGM is a Sergeant with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
In February 2012, Sergeant Wright and two colleagues responded to a violent domestic disturbance call. A suspect had locked himself inside an address with two young children and was described as being ‘dangerously out of control’.
As the officers were about to force entry, the suspect – armed with two knives – attacked Sergeant Wright, causing him serious head injuries.
Despite his severe wounds, the officer continued to wrestle with the suspect – who managed to struggle free and began to attack one of the other officers present.
At that point, Sergeant Wright made a simple choice.
He risked his own life to save the life of his colleague – and to protect the two children.
He tackled the suspect to the ground and, between them, the three officers managed to restrain and handcuff him.
Sergeant Wright has been awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal for his exemplary act of bravery.
Martin Finney GM is a Firearms Officer with the National Crime Agency.
In May 2014, Martin was taking part in an armed surveillance operation in North London. At the end of the evening, he and his colleagues were stood down and he made his way back to his car.
He was alone and not wearing body armour.
As he was walking to his vehicle, an armed criminal – Sedat Meric – fired a handgun four times into a crowded pool hall across the street.
At that point, Martin Finney made a simple choice.
He risked his own life to confront an exceptionally dangerous man.
He identified himself, drew his own gun and shouted at Meric to drop his weapon.
Meric responded by running at him and opening fire.
With no back up, Martin returned fire and took the decision to chase his attacker – believing that it was quite possible that someone had been killed or seriously injured in the pool hall.
He maintained his pursuit until Meric ran out of bullets, put down his gun and surrendered. Martin detained him until help arrived.
He had been fired at a total of seven times.
Martin Finney has been awarded the George Medal for his actions that day. This is an even higher form of recognition than the QGM – presented only for acts of great bravery.
As I write this, I find myself feeling the most extraordinary sense of pride in the actions of three men I don’t know but who are, somehow, family.
They characterise so much of what is extraordinary about law enforcement in this country – so much of what is remarkable about the men and women I have served alongside for the last 25 years.
And what is courage?
It is something priceless and precious and rare.
Courage is what led officers down into the tunnels on 7/7.
Courage is what caused armed officers to confront the killers of Lee Rigby.
Courage is what urges officers towards the hurting places – towards broken homes and crime scenes and car crashes.
Courage is what compels officers to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and go again.
Courage is what persuades officers to put up a hand and ask for help when they are struggling to cope with it all.
Courage is what took a Hampshire PC into the water.
Courage is what took a PSNI Sergeant into the violence.
Courage is what took an NCA officer into the line of fire.
Courage is something we can take for granted sometimes.
Courage is something we ought to be celebrating with every breath we have.
In a world that can, on occasions, seem short of people to look up to, I give you Nathan Lucy QGM, Andrew Wright QGM and Martin Finney GM.
Heroes of our time.