HEROIC police officers who climbed to the roof of a tall building without protection to rescue a woman who was hanging off the edge have been commended with bravery awards.

Police constables Stu Francis and Grant Hawkins were on patrol around Southend in July last year when they were flagged down by a member of the public who reported a woman was hanging off the edge of a building near Victoria Station.

The officers immediately responded and found the woman hanging from the building by her hands.

Knowing that time was of the essence, the officers grabbed a collapsing ladder from their vehicle, put it up and managed to climb up to where she was. They had nowhere to stand other than a very small ledge with no protection.

Echo: PC Grant HawkinsPC Grant Hawkins (Image: Essex Police Federation)

PC Francis recalls: “We were able to get up onto the roof of the building where she was, and then we were able to climb along the edge and manage to get to her, by which point she’d sort of lowered herself off the edge and was hanging on just by her hands and her feet dangling over the precipice.

“I managed to get to her and grab hold of her, and then Grant came along beside me within a few seconds, and between us we managed to haul her up back over the edge, after which she went unconscious.“

They worked as a team and used all their body strength to pull the woman to safety. Although she was breathing she was unresponsive, so the officers performed emergency first aid while waiting for an ambulance.

The officers remained with the woman, monitoring her condition and offering reassurance. However they didn’t get any response, and the woman’s breathing was very shallow.

Thankfully, she was taken to hospital where she got the help she needed from healthcare professionals.

The two officers are now being honoured with Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards.

Echo: 'Chuffed' - PC Stuart Francis'Chuffed' - PC Stuart Francis (Image: Essex Police Federation)

On winning the award, PC Francis said: “I felt really chuffed when I was nominated because it doesn’t come around very often. Both Grant and I have been in the police for quite a long time. We’ve dealt with various things over the years and we’ve worked together for a really long time as well, so we know each other really well.

“It was one of those incidents where you think, that was a real close one.”

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said: “Stu and Grant had to act quickly, having been flagged down by a member of the public and not getting a chance to plan anything. They were calm and decisive as they worked together as a team, risking their own lives to rescue the woman.

“This incident shows once again how police officers are much more than crime fighters. It’s great that this dynamic duo can be recognised by their federation for their courageous actions.”

The officers will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards on Thursday, May 16.

Anyone affected by this story can contact Samaritans' free helpline 24/7 on 116 123, or visit www.samaritans.org.