Bravery Award for Killingworth couple who rescued neighbour from fire

Date14 February 2018

Michelle and Andrew Corkhill from Killingworth have been presented with a Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Award, for rescuing an elderly neighbour, Mr Miller from a house fire.

On Thursday 31st August last year, Michelle and Andrew went to their car in Killingworth, Newcastle, to drive to work when Andrew thought he smelled smoke. He looked up and saw thick smoke pouring from his neighbour’s upstairs room and the neighbour shouting for help from the window.

Mr Corkhill ran to his garage to get a ladder to rescue him but found the ladder couldn’t reach high enough. He ran back and got a bigger ladder and put it up to the window where he helped his neighbour down to safety. He tried to return to the window to help the neighbour’s dog escape but the heat and smoke beat him back.

The Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Award says: “Mr and Mrs Corkhill selflessly went to help their neighbour prior to the arrival of fire crews. With quick speed of thought and little concern for personal safety, they attempted to rescue Mr Miller with a set of ladders. Mr Corkhill then climbed up and bridged a gap of over 1 metre to rescue Mr Miller; this was a difficult and extremely awkward action to carry out. Had it not been for Mr and Mrs Corkhill’s actions, Mr Miller may well have been more seriously injured as conditions became unbearable throughout the house.”

Andrew Corkhill said: “We weren’t parked in our usual place outside of our house because if we were we wouldn’t have seen the fire.  We looked up and saw black smoke billowing out and our neighbour shouting for help from the window.

“I didn’t really stop to think, I just acted automatically to help him.  I’d like to think everybody would do the same for us. The Fire and Rescue Service arrived really quickly and went into the front of the property and were able to get the dog out. I saw them with breathing equipment on her face and they managed to save her too.”

The couple were presented with their award by Nick Forbes, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, Deputy Chair.  He commented: “It was a pleasure to meet Michelle and Andrew and present them with their award. A fire is a frightening experience but their quick actions and bravery represent the highest values of the service and made sure their neighbour escaped serious injuries or worse.”

“These were exceptional, and brave actions by two people whose only thoughts were to save their neighbour. Our award is a huge thank you from us, to them for their bravery and courage.”