Local heroes' awards for pulling woman from burning flat

PUBLISHED: 13:45 26 September 2012

High Sheriff of Somerset Sylvana Chandler presenting the awards

High Sheriff of Somerset Sylvana Chandler presenting the awards

Archant

THREE heroes who pulled a woman from a burning tower block have been recognised for their incredible bravery.

Luke Neilson, Lee John and Mark Hall acted quickly and selflessly to save Claire Murray’s life after she had set fire to her flat in their tower block in Weston’s Oldmixon estate.

In a ceremony on September 19 the trio were given awards by the High Sheriff of Somerset to commemorate their actions.

On March 6 the 37-year-old Murray set fire to her fifth floor flat at Bruton House in Monkton Avenue in an attempt to kill herself.

Hearing the building’s alarm go off, neighbour Lee John and friend Luke Neilson rushed into Murray’s room to rescue her.

Speaking earlier this year, father of two Mr John told the Mercury: “When we got there, there was black smoke billowing out of the letter box.

“I think anybody would do what we did, she was my neighbour.”

They carried her struggling out of the flat, but she ran back in and as they tried to follow her they were overcome by the smoke and could not enter.

Another neighbour Mark Hall, who lived on the floor above Murray, heard crashing and banging and went downstairs to investigate.

Seeing her flat ablaze he rushed in and pulled her out.

He said: “I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face when I went in her flat, the smoke was that thick.”

At a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on March 22 Murray pleaded guilty to one count of arson and was sentenced by Judge Martin Picton to 32 months’ imprisonment.

At the hearing, the judge decreed that the three men should be given £100 from the public reward fund, saying: “They should be commended for showing extraordinary bravery in putting their own lives at risk to protect other people.”

At the ceremony, held at the Mayor’s Parlour at Grove House, High Sheriff Sylvana Chandler presented the three men with their awards.

Weston’s mayor David Hitchins said: “I was honoured when the High Sheriff of Somerset requested to use the Mayor’s Parlour for the award ceremony.

“I am privileged to be the mayor of a town whose residents show enormous bravery and public spirit when faced with the adversity of such a serious incident.”

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