Nathan wins regional bravery award after river rescue

A South Wales Police officer who risked his life trying to save two people from a riverbed during a raging storm has won a national Police Bravery Award.

PC Nathan Davies travelled to London on 14 July with his wife Katrina to join fellow nominees from across the country at a Downing Street reception hosted by Home Secretary Priti Patel who praised their “incredible courage”.

He then attended a presentation ceremony where he named Welsh regional winner and received his prestigious award from Wales’ deputy minister for social partnership Hannah Blythyn in front of guests including South Wales’ Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan and Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael.

Speaking after the event, PC Davies said: “It feels brilliant and it’s nice to be acknowledged. We all felt like we didn't deserve to have all this – to go to Downing Street and have this amazing ceremony. It was very humbling but definitely an experience to tell the grandkids about one day.”

The officer, who is also a public order medic, joined policing nine years ago after feeling unfilled in his call centre job and wanting to make a difference.

The incident for which earned his citation occurred on 12 August 2020. Earlier that day the Met Office had issued weather warnings for flooding and thunderstorms.

Responding to an emergency call about a woman screaming for help in the River Clydach in Swansea, PC Davies and his colleague made their way through a heavily wooded area in pitch black and treacherous conditions.

“We followed a cry for help and got to the top of a sheer cliff edge,” he recalls. “I could see a man about 24 feet below, very seriously injured, and a woman was also very serious, and they were both in the water. I am a public order medic so I knew if I could get down there, I might be able to help.

“To my left was a tree which looked like it might be obscuring a very steep path. I tried that but quickly realised that first my legs and then my back, were no longer touching anything – I was falling, and fast.”

PC Davies hit the ground with some force and was briefly knocked unconscious. He came-to and crawled over to the man. With help from a member of the public, he got the casualty out of the water and performed CPR for 15 to 20 minutes, while continually reassuring the woman, until firefighters and police colleagues arrived.

It was only when PC Davies attempted to stand, he became aware of acute pain in his leg, thigh, and lower back. A paramedic ordered that he be winched to safety, and he spent the night in hospital being treated for injuries and a bad concussion. Tragically, the man he fought so hard to save died of his injuries.

Some months later PC Davies learned of his nomination for a bravery award. He was accompanied to London by his wife Katrina, a teacher, and reflected that: “As police officers we ask a lot of our families. We’re always in work, we’re not there to put the kids to bed, and my wife is always saying she’s at birthday parties on her own because I’m working. So, I wanted her to be with me in London and she absolutely loved the experience.”

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne said: “It was an honour to attend the Police Bravery Awards with Nathan and Katrina. He showed incredible courage that night in some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable and I am so pleased his bravery has been properly recognised with this award.”

The annual bravery awards are organised by the Police Federation and sponsored by Police Mutual. This year’s overall winner was Lincolnshire Police’s PC Steven Denniss who was stabbed as he tackled a double murder suspect he has spotted while off duty and out walking his dogs.