A volunteer police officer who rescued a suicidal teenager dangling on the edge of a quarry has been awarded for his bravery.
Special Constable Chris Hinchcliffe spent an hour-and-a-half building a rapport with the troubled youngster to stop him from letting go of the branch he was clinging onto at the quarry in Whittle-le-Woods - and falling 100ft to his death.
An an awards ceremony on Monday evening, married Mr Hinchcliffe, a former RAF serviceman, was told he went ‘beyond the call of duty’ to save the boy’s life.
The modest volunteer police worker was on a night shift in January 2011 when he received the call telling him a teenager was threatening to jump from the ledge of the quarry.
He raced to the scene, with colleague PC Paul Harrison, and found himself the first person at the site with a troubled young boy threatening to take his own life.
Keeping calm and thinking quickly, Mr Hinchcliffe grabbed the attention of the youngster, talking to him about football, and eventually persuading him from the edge with the promise of a cigarette.
Recalling the night, Mr Hinchcliffe, 42, who is also an administrator at Chorley Magistrates’ Court, said; “It was pitch black and I remember we got a call saying a boy was threatening to jump.
“I was one of the first officers at the scene and I found him holding onto a twig with a 100ft drop beneath him.
“I stayed with him throughout, just talking to him and trying to keep his attention away from the edge.”
Despite trained negotiators being on the scene, along with more police, fire crews, ambulances, and a police helicopter, Mr Hinchcliffe was told to keep going with his efforts, leaning over the ledge to talk to him.
A member of the fire service had initially tried to talk to him, but he had turned his back, threatening to jump if anyone got any closer. He said: “I tried to find a common ground with him and he eventually told me what was going on.
“He had lost his father and he was in foster care because his mum couldn’t handle him.
“He was a lovely lad and I really felt for him.
“Doing this job you come across people all the time who are in a bad place, but when someone is on the edge of a quarry threatening to jump it is different. There would have been no coming back from that.
“His feet were on a ledge and he was holding onto a twig no bigger than your index finger. It could have gone at any time.”
After about 45 minutes he persuaded the boy to let emergency services throw a rope down to him, so he could have something more substantial to hold onto. Mr Hinchcliffe said: “I was surprisingly relaxed when it was all happening. I don’t know whether it was because I’m a bit older or because I’m ex-services and I’ve been in situations where you have to keep your calm with people before.
“Saying that, I went back when it was light and realised it was a good job it was dark at the time, because I couldn’t see the drop.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the best with heights.”
Modest Mr Hincliffe maintains it was a team effort that eventually persuaded the boy to put the rope around him and allow himself to be rescued.
He said: “It sounds like a cliché, but at the end of the day that’s what we were there for.
“I followed he lad to the hospital and was there when his mum arrived.
“He didn’t want to go back to his foster carers so he went to his friend’s house instead.
“I don’t know what has happened to him, which is a real shame. I would have liked to know where he is now. I hope he has turned his life around and made something of himself. It’s nice to get recognition for what happened but it was a real team effort. I just happened to find him first.”