Woman who fought off armed robber receives award

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Sheila Jeffrey was presented with an award for her bravery

By Cara Sulieman

A WOMAN who fought of an armed robber who tried to stab her was given an award for bravery today.

Sheila Jeffrey was working in the small post office in Yetholm, near Kelso in the Borders in September 2008 when Patrick Loyden demanded cash.

But 72-year-old Sheila – who has been at the post office since 1984 – struggled with Loyden even though he was brandishing a knife.

Loyden received nine years for assault and robbery in March this year for the attack.

Today she and the other four people who tried to stop the thief were presented with meritorious awards from Lothian and Borders Police for their bravery.

Recalling what happened, Mrs Jeffrey said: “He came in and demanded money. I said he wasn’t getting any.

“Then he produced a knife and I tried to stop him from getting to the till.

“The knife came towards my stomach and I grabbed hold of it to keep it away from my stomach.

“He started pushing my head against a metal box on the wall and I shouted for my daughter who was next door.

“He didn’t expect to see anyone else there but my daughter had come from next door.

“Then he put his hand in the drawer to try and get the money.

“I thought to myself, ‘he’s not getting any’ so I tried to shut his hand in the drawer.

“That’s when he ran off, my daughter Angela tried to stop him but he was too strong.”

The crime fighting team: (l to r) Margaret Mather, Angela Lyall, Peter Mather, Sheila Jeffrey and Susan Peterson

Once Loyden was outside, Susan Peterson, 55, started chasing him down the road.

She had seen him come out the post office and – despite being on crutches at the time – decided to chase him.

Mrs Peterson said: “I didn’t realise at first what he had done but Angela came out and said he had taken the money.”

Peter and Margaret Mather followed Loyden in their car for around seven miles down country lanes before they lost him.

Thanks to the information that everyone had, the police were able to catch Loyden quickly.

Sheila said: “They gave him eight years in the end; as my son said – he tried to kill me.

“I’ve had the post office since 1984 and we’ve never had any problems before. But I was determined to keep going, it wasn’t going to put me off.”

Another recipient was Jonathan Anderson who saved his neighbour from a fire that broke out in her flat in January last year.

As well as getting her out safely, he managed to put the flames out before the fire service arrived.

Jonathan Anderson saved a neighbour from a house fire

Jonathan, 38, explained: “We were sat at home and heard a fire alarm.

“It was down the stair and there was a woman screaming so I grabbed the fire extinguisher from our flat and went to get her.

“I grabbed the woman and got her out of the stairs and went into the flat. The bed was alight.

“I used the fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

“I am quite proud of the award; it’s nice to get the recognition.”

And trio Andrew Johnstone, Kyle Smith and Colin Grieve also received awards for their part in saving a man from a river in Hawick in April 2008.

The trio had been walking home when they heard the man screaming from the River Teviot.

Realising he was too drunk to get out of the water himself, they jumped in and rescued the man.

Andrew, 17, said: “We heard shouting and we had a look but we couldn’t spot him in the dark. Finally we spotted him and called the ambulance.

“The three of us jumped in and pulled him to the side and kept talking to him to make sure he was awake.

“It was just a spur of the moment thing; it was the way I was brought up. I didn’t think twice about it.”

Andrew Johnstone and Kyle Smith

Kyle, also 17, added: “The man was quite drunk so couldn’t have got himself out.

“It was only waist deep but he was struggling so we had to go in after him.

“We’re definitely pleased to get the award, it’s really nice.”

Chief Constable David Strang said: “The ceremony recognises the achievements of members of the public and police officers who have shown extraordinary courage, fortitude or presence of mind in real time dramatic circumstances.”

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