Life-saving police hero given new honour

PC Martin Burkinshaw (second left) with his Stars award
PC Martin Burkinshaw (second left) with his Stars award

A quick-thinking Wigan beat bobby has been honoured again for saving the life of a man who was trying to hang himself.

PC Martin Burkinshaw had already received a Chief Constable’s commendation for the presence of mind and determination that prevented a tragedy.

But this week he was feted again at the force boss’s annual Stars awards which spotlight a range of outstanding acts of policing. PC Burkinshaw was honoured in the safety category and given an award for first aid.

The 42-year-old had found the stricken man suspended from a tree branch by a noose around his neck after scouring the grounds of Haigh Hall for five hours in the middle of the night in search for him.

Astonishingly the man was still alive, despite the rope bearing his entire weight. The officer climbed the tree and hauled the man up onto another branch.

He then used his cigarette lighter to burn through the rope.

Pc Burkinshaw visited him the next evening in hospital and found the man immensely grateful for his actions. He admitted to having researched the exact location to end his life earlier in the day, picking the spot precisely because of its hidden location. The man had entered the plantations late at night then rung his ex saying he was going to commit suicide there.

He also sent her a photo of a rope with which he intended to hang himself. The girlfriend rang 999 and several police officers, police dogs, the force helicopter and the mountain rescue service were all mobilised, along with a police search co-ordinator, but could not find the man.

But Pc Burkinshaw carried on his own search and at 6.30am found the man in a particularly secluded location just moments from death.

The officer said: “I felt lucky I was able to find him. When I was trying to keep hold of him he was telling me that he could not hold on.

“As I was trying to hold him up I was also trying to direct my colleagues and the mountain rescue team to help us as the mapping system for our radios was not working.

“Whilst I was looking for him I kept seeing his poor parents frantically searching for him and this spurred me on to carry on looking for him. When the mountain rescue team and my colleagues found us I felt relieved and that is when it dawned on me that the male was so close to dying and we had managed to save him.”

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We have had so many achievements from both officers and staff over the last 12 months, a testament to the fantastic work that all of our colleagues do day in day out, and it’s only right that we take a moment to show our appreciation for all that they do.

“All of the nominees should be extremely proud – they have shown real resilience, professionalism and a dedication to the people of Greater Manchester that they should all be proud of.”

PCSOs and police cadets, the “man on the moors” investigative team and neighbourhood police officers who have organised hundreds of community events numbered among other 12 teams and individuals given awards on the night at the Imperial War Museum.