FIVE off-duty lifeguards have been praised for their extreme bravery after saving two teenagers from drowning on a Hampshire beach. They were among dozens of members of the public and police officers recognised for going above and beyond the call of duty in the Western Area Awards, held at Totton’s Hangar Arts Centre centre last night. Among those receiving awards were Christopher Bland, 18, Matthew Bland, 21, Michael Pitchers, 21, Luke Surplice, 21, and Kelly Surplice, 18, all from Totton. They were at Lepe Beach on July 26 last year when three 13-year-old girls got into trouble in deep water, 50 yards from shore. While one of the girls was able to swim to shore, the lifeguards rushed into the water and got the other two girls safely out. Handing over their award, New Forest Commander Chief Insp Tony Rawlinson said: “Had it not been for your quick and brave actions, two of the girls may not be here to tell the tale.” Among the police officers commended last night were officers called to Lakeside Park in January after 28-year-old Austin Clark had jumped into the water and got into trouble. He drowned, despite the efforts of police officers who rushed in to try and save him. PCs Kelly Drodge, Iain Wilson and Steve Misselbrook and Acting Sgt Al Swanton received awards for their work at the scene and in supporting the drowned man’s family. PCSOs Michael Manns and Stuart McCloskey were given awards after helping two pensioners, in their 80s, who were being threatened and pelted with stones by two youths. Also honoured was PCSO Lisa Quinn, who tracked down a four-year-old girl who had gone missing. And PCs Matt Kirby and Andy Wakely were honoured for commandeering a fishing boat in Hythe Marina to prevent a man from killing himself.
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