Outstanding acts of compassion and courage were celebrated at a south west London police commendation ceremony in Molesey last week.
More than 150 families, friends and colleagues attended last Thursday to commend officers, volunteers and members of the public for their service to the South West London Basic Command Unit, which covers Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth.
Special mention was made of a Putney man, Mark Spellor, 61, who attended to see commendations presented to officers who saved his life in October last year.
Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, who conducted the ceremony, said: “I am absolutely humbled that Mr and Mrs Spellor came along today and that police officers involved stayed in touch with them.”
Mr Spellor suffered a cardiac arrest while driving home from a Wimbledon gym, lost control of his car and collided with two lamp posts.
PC Jess Elvin, 29, and PC Rhys Moores, 30, were attending a break-in nearby when they heard the crash. They immediately attended the scene and found Mr Spellor collapsed beneath the wheel.
With assistance from members of the public and colleagues, PC Mark Kearns and PC Younes Safadi, they removed Mr Spellor from the car and began CPR while awaiting support from 40 members of emergency services.
Mr Spellor was taken to hospital where he spent nine weeks in recovery, but his survival was made possible by the officers’ swift action and immediate decision to remove him from the vehicle.
Mr Spellor and his wife, Elaine Spellor, remained in contact with officers throughout the recovery process. Officers visited Mr Spellor at his home in January.
Mr Spellor said: “They came immediately to my assistance and saved my life.
“They stayed in contact, and that’s why we are here.”
Superintendent Debbie Brown presented the six officers involved with commendations for professionalism and dedication to duty.
She said: “Even after 25 years of policing there’s still some things that put a lump in your throat, and for me that was one of them.”
PC Elvin and PC Moores had only been serving four years, but said that many colleagues who had been serving for 25 years are yet to have to deal with an incident on this scale.
They said that it will likely be the greatest achievement of their entire careers.
Commendations were also presented for volunteering hundreds of hours of unpaid work, responding off-duty, and consoling witnesses of traumatic events.
A team of police officers and volunteers who implemented a project in Wandsworth last summer were commended for community engagement.
It aimed to engage 9-16 year olds, to decrease antisocial behaviour and provide a safe space for young children, but its greatest achievement was the change in the young people’s opinion towards police officers.
Volunteers were also recognised for their vital contribution to south west London police services, including keeping Teddington Police Station running six days a week until it closed in December 2017.
Chief Inspector Penny Hands said: “Our police officers, as stretched as they are, really do appreciate the support that they are given by members of the public coming in their own time.”
Among these volunteers was Ann Chaplin, recognised for 15 years of outstanding voluntary service to the south west London metropolitan police. She has contributed an average of 500 volunteering hours per year.
John Murray was recognised for a total of 48 years voluntary service to the police, including 11 years as a Metropolitan police volunteer most recently.
Commendations are nominated by colleagues and supervisors, judged by a panel and recommended to Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, who selected the 30 individuals to receive the commendations.
She said: “It’s one of the best bits of my job.”