Heroes honoured for selfless acts of bravery

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A policeman who saved the life of a five-day-old baby who had turned blue “like denim” is to be awarded for his heroics today.

Constable Donald McFadyen, 43, brought tiny Archie Greenwell back to life after he stopped breathing at his home as his petrified parents watched on in horror. It was the first time he had ever given CPR.

He will join a line-up of brave, selfless and quick-thinking people at the Lothian and Borders Police Meritorious Awards, all of whom have gone beyond the call of duty in often terrifying situations.

Chief Constable David Strang said: “These awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge exceptional public-spirited actions towards those in need of help and assistance.”

Constable McFadyen, from Livingston, was policing the Bathgate Gala Day on a sunny day in June last year when a man rushed over to ask if he could help the lifeless newborn.

Archie was in his home across the road when he choked and stopped breathing.

Constable McFadyen, a father-of-two, said: “The man – I think he was a family friend – said, ‘the baby’s not breathing and has turned blue’. I got on the radio to ask for an ambulance to come to the house and ran inside.

“It was busy with visitors for the gala day festivities. There was a lot of people who were very distressed and there was a lady holding a little five-day-old baby. The baby was blue – like denim – and didn’t appear to be breathing.

“I started rubbing on his chest with one finger very lightly and doing CPR, but he was still not responding. Suddenly he opened his eyes and there was a gurgly cough.

“It was a frightening time for his mum and a huge relief when he came round. She was absolutely distraught. It was terrifying to see a baby that blue.”

After being checked over at St John’s Hospital, Archie was given a clean bill of health.

Constable McFadyen, who is based at Livingston Police Station, said: “For those few moments you’re pleading in yourself for him ‘to get going’, and sure enough he did. It was dramatic but very nice to get the outcome that we wanted.”

Having been in the force for more than 22 years, the police officer said he was “quite chuffed” to be receiving a Meritorious Award.

Joining him is Daniel Hawkes, 28, a train conductor from Gorgie, who helped a mum and her two-year-old son when they were attacked by a man in the Hermitage of Braid last February.

He was out with his friend Charles Brooke, 31, also a train conductor, from Marchmont, cycling near Blackford Pond when they spotted the woman.

He said: “There was a certain look on her face that just didn’t seem right and we both instantly knew something was wrong. They were against the wall of the bridge. Her face was white and she looked scared. She ran up to us and shouted, ‘He’s got a knife’ and you could see her hand was all bloodied.”

The men shouted at the attacker to leave and the police were able to catch him shortly after, based on their descriptions.

Daniel said: “He had pinned the woman down and told her, ‘I don’t want your money, just do as I say’ when she had offered her wallet and mobile. I’m just so glad we were in the right place at the right time, it could have been a lot worse.

“We were both quite shaken. It was meant to be a leisurely cycle, but we’re just glad we were there to prevent something more serious happening.”

Today’s award, to be issued at Fettes Police Headquarters, will be Daniel’s second, having helped someone in distress in the River Tweed at Galashiels in 2001.

Also receiving a Meritorious Award today is freelance photographer Angus Blackburn whose heroic actions saved the life of a six-year-old boy who was trapped in a burning house.

Angus had just popped out for a quiet pint at his local pub in Penicuik one evening in November 2009 when the drama unfolded.

The 48-year-old was heading towards the Roadhouse pub when frantic mum Angela Thomson ran into the bar screaming for help.

Angela’s son Denon was trapped upstairs in his bedroom. Her efforts to save him had been hindered by thick black smoke, which was pouring from their blazing home on Carnethy Avenue.

Without hesitation Angus rushed to the house to rescue little Denon, who was screaming for help.

It took the father-of-one two attempts to climb the stairs and rescue the youngster, due to the heavy smoke.

He said: “I was thinking, ‘get up the stairs’. I went back up again once I got my breath back – the poor wee kid was screaming.”

Angus said Denon had been unable to leave his room due to a baby gate placed at the entrance.

“I caught a wee glimpse of something when the air moved and I could see where Denon was standing. I made my way over and grabbed him. I managed to find the baby gate, which was red hot. I stepped over it and there was no time for anything – I just thought, ‘get him out as quickly as possible’. I threw him down the stairs and his mum got him at the bottom. She was really relieved and very upset.”

Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and extinguished the blaze, but if it hadn’t been for Angus’s bravery and quick-thinking, little Denon may not be here today.

“When it happened on the night, everybody was pretty shaken up about the whole thing,” said Angus.

“I’m just happy that everybody was safe, sometimes these things don’t have happy endings.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com

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