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UCLan student saves the life of a woman attempting to jump off motorway flyover

Sarah Thistlewaite was presented with a parchment of bravery for her actions


TW: Talk of suicide

UCLan student midwife Sarah Thistlewaite has been awarded a Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society parchment after saving the life of a woman on the M65, reports LancsLive.

Sarah’s “quick-thinking” came into action in February 2019 when she spotted a woman “standing on the wrong side of a flyover on the M65.”

She “acted on instinct” and stopped her car, talking to the woman to stop her from jumping, before an off-duty police officer aided Sarah in helping the woman down to safety.

She opted to ask the woman whether she had a family, and informed her that she might feel differently tomorrow. Sarah recounted that although she was probably only there for “five minutes” before an off-duty police officer turned up on the scene, it “felt like an hour”.

Sarah said: “As soon as I saw her, I knew there was something wrong so I stopped the car and went straight over. I put my arms around the lady and just kept thinking, I can’t let her fall”. She added: “I often think about the woman and hope she is in a much better place with her mental health”, and stated that although on reflection, it was a “traumatic experience”, she would “do it again in a heartbeat”.

The parchment, which is the highest of the Society’s awards, comes as the second award received by Sarah as a celebration of her actions, following one awarded to her by Lancashire Police “for assisting a Police Officer”. Sarah said: “I was shocked but it brought back a sense of pride. I feel really honoured to receive it.”

Superintendent Derry Corken stated: “Sarah showed great bravery and thoughtfulness to take care of this woman who was in a vulnerable situation.

“Sarah kept her safe until further help came along. Her brave actions have rightly been recognised by Lancashire Police and it was a privilege to present her with this award.”

A mum of four, Sarah “left behind” her 20-year career in community pharmacy to pursue her degree in 2020 and expects to graduate in midwifery after studying at UCLan’s Burnley campus.

Sarah added: “My nature is to help people, particularly those who are feeling vulnerable, any maybe that’s what made me stop to help a woman in crisis that particular day”.

She hopes to use her “skills” as a midwife, helping women in the East Lancashire area, and commented that although “retraining hasn’t been easy”, she “can’t wait to get started” in her new career.