By Cara Sulieman and Paul Thornton
A YOUNG man who dragged a teenage girl from a flat after her boyfriend poured petrol on her and set her on fire was among 50 heroes to be recognised by a new award presented for the first time today.
Ricci Foreman, 20, was presented with a [email protected] award for his attempt to rescue Jessica McCagh after a horrific fire attack by twisted killer Stewart Blackburn.
The hero was just 19 years old when he tried to save Jessica, 17, at her flat in Arbroath in April last year.
He battled a blazing and smoke filled room to repeatedly pour a fish tank of water over the girl, who had been set on fire with petrol, and helped her out of the home.
Jessica tragically lost her fight for life later the same day.
Blackburn was later given a life sentence with a minimum of 21 years behind bars after being convicted of murder.
Yesterday Ricci – who still lives in Arbroath – admitted: “That night is still with me.
“It has taken time to get over, but friends have really come through for me.
“I have personally spoken with Jessica’s dad Garry and my thoughts go out to them and I thank them for their support and for saying what they did about me.
“I speak to Garry on a regular basis.
“For what I thought it was, I think I did quite well. I’m really proud to be here.
“This is my second award and I think I am getting a third one, everybody seems to know me even though I don’t know them.”
Jessica’s parent’s Garry and Marion had earlier called for Ricci’s heroics to be formally recognised.
Yesterday’s awards, held at Edinburgh Castle, were the first ever [email protected] awards.
They honoured 50 heroes, including 24 members of the public and 26 emergency services workers.
The recipients were presented with their awards by First Minister Alex Salmond, with six life savers from the 50 also being awarded St Andrew’s Awards.
The First Minister said: “The awards have been given to 24 members of the public who instead of taking the easy route actually chose to do the reverse chose to intervene and make a difference.
“And 26 members of the emergency services that have gone above and beyond the call of duty in risking their own safety in service of others.
“They have all shown a level of concern for others that is humbling for the rest of us.”
Recipients included Kirsten Elder, 16, and Riah Holland, 15, who were just 14 years old when they saved a woman from jumping off a bridge in their hometown of Glenrothes, Fife.
Brave Riah climbed over the railings of the bridge and held on to the woman before calming her down while Kirsten called in police and helped her school friend to keep the woman relaxed.
Riah said that the incident had spurred her into a career in psychology – a subject the youngster is starting a course in at Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy.
She said: “What happened changed a lot in my life – it made me think about going into psychology because I would like to help people and be able to intervene before it comes to the point that woman was at.”
Kirsten – who is going into fifth year at Glenwood High School in Glenrothes – added: “It is an honour to get such an award for something that we are so proud of.”
Teenager David Bruce was woken by intruders into his home in Dundee but stayed calm and helped to catch the burglars.
The 16-year-old confronted the man and the woman and, despite being threatened with a pair of scissors at his throat, saw them out the house and called police.
He said: “I was not expecting to get this award. “At the time I was not scared, I was quite calm. But 10 minutes after I got quite shaky.
“At the time you just react but after when you are thinking about it, that is when you think ‘that could have gone quite badly’.”
One of the recipients of the St Andrew’s Award was PC Steven Gilmour, 27, from Strathclyde Police.
He had been working in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, last October when he was called to help a man who had fallen into the harbour.
When the man stopped moving, PC Gilmour jumped in and dragged him to the surface.
PC Gilmour said: “I was on night shift when we were called to Ardrossan harbour because people had heard shouts of help from the water.
“When we went there we saw a man about 40 foot away from the harbour side and he had stopped shouting and kept bobbing under the water.
“Eventually he sunk under and disappeared so we took the decision that I should go in after him.
“I jumped in and dived down about five foot and managed to find him which was hard because it was really dark.
“I pulled him up to the surface and made my way back to the harbour side.
“It was about 10 feet up to the edge so I stayed with him until the coastguard came and pulled us both out.
“We weren’t going to let him die without at least trying to save him.
“I had the early stages of hypothermia and was in hospital for about three hours.”
PC Gilmour is also set to receive a Chief Constable’s Very High Commendation from his force for his actions.
Despite his bravery, the policeman from Ayr was surprised to hear he had been awarded the accolade today.
He added: “I never could have expected this. It is quite an honour to be recognised for doing something in the line of duty.
“It’s a privilege to have been able to do that.”
A further recipient of the [email protected] award was 39-year-old Gary Fairburn from the Dunbar RNLI who led the operation to rescue two stranded Swedish tourists.
Their yacht had got into trouble in bad weather while sailing off the coast and the RNLI were sent out to rescue them.
But the bad weather meant that the rescue boat tipped on to its side twice as they tried to save the couple from the ship.
Gary explained: “We were wrapping up for weekend and got the call to go and help the boat.
“We knew the weather was bad but didn’t realise just how bad it was until we got further out to sea when the waves were getting quite high.
“We quickly realised the weather conditions were too bad to attempt to tug the boat back into harbour so we had to perform a rescue instead.
“It was made harder because they had no safety equipment and just the one life vest between them.
“Our first attempt to go alongside the yacht didn’t work because of a sudden wave swell so we had to try a different manoeuvre.
“The second time we managed to get the boat alongside the yacht for long enough to grab the female off but then we had to move away.
“Then we had to go back a second time and get the male.
“The crew were well and truly switched on so we managed to get both aboard safely.
“At the end of the day it isn’t nice to leave a boat at sea but it is more important to save lives.”
And Gary said that he was thrilled to receive the accolade.
He added: “I am ecstatic about wining this award. It’s a great achievement on behalf of the RNLI.
Two young girls were also among the recipients, receiving the [email protected] award for helping save an elderly man from a fire in his home.
Along with their friend Lauren Jackson, 17, Ellie Rye and Emma Stuart, both 12, helped 74-year-old William McCall out of his home in South Queensferry after a fire broke out in the kitchen.
They were walking home from South Queensferry High School when they heard the pensioner’s smoke alarm going off.
Ellie explained: “We were walking up from school and we could hear a faint alarm and we didn’t know what it was at first.
“Then we saw smoke coming from a house and we didn’t know what to do so we called Lauren over and she called the fire brigade.”
The brave girls then went and rang the doorbell, alerting Mr McCall to the fire.
Emma said: “We heard like a popping sound and the fire said afterwards that that would have been the windows cracking in the house.
“We went up to the man’s door and knocked it because we didn’t know if there was anyone in there.
“When the man came to the door he didn’t want to come out. He was very disorientated.”
But the girls managed to get the pensioner out of the building and waited for the fire to arrive.
Ellie added: “When the door opened there was smoke everywhere in the hallway.
“He went into one of his neighbour’s houses and we waited for the fire to come.
“They told us that if we hadn’t called them the fire would have gone into everyone else’s houses as well.”
The recipients of the awards were selected by a panel made up of senior police officers, fire chiefs and Scottish Ambulance Service bosses who scoured hundreds of nominations to find the nation’s bravest people.