A courageous former Mansfield police officer who risked his life to save a woman from drowning in the sea has been honoured by royalty.
Insp Darren Sear, 47, was presented with a Royal Humane Society silver gilt police medal by Princess Alexandra at a ceremony in London. He is the first Nottinghamshire officer to receive the medal, which is awarded for the greatest act of gallantry in the UK during each year, since its inception.
The dramatic rescue happened one night in October 2015 when Insp Sear, who is now stationed at Nottingham, was off duty and staying at a holiday home in Anderby Creek, near Skegness.
He rushed to the beach to look for a woman neighbour who was suffering from depression and had gone missing. He heard her voice coming from the sea, stripped off his clothes and waded into the icy water. Defying dangerous currents and pitch-black darkness, he swam to her, guided only by a torch being held by his wife on the beach, and dragged the woman back to shore.
The society’s secretary, Dick Wilkinson, said: “He could easily have been swept away and drowned. He put himself in grave danger, but he did not hesitate.”
Insp Sear was also praised by Nottinghamshire’s Assistant Chief Constable, Steve Cooper, who said: “When I heard this story, I was truly humbled. Darren displayed a level of bravery which is over and above what we expect of officers while on duty, let alone off duty. He is a shining example of everything a police officer should be.”
After receiving his accolade, Insp Sear said: “I am so grateful to be awarded this prestigious medal. Although my shift ends when I book off, my responsibility as a police officer is always present in my mind, and I saw it as my duty to try and help my neighbour.
”I was just thankful I managed to find her and get her to safety.”