The ‘heroic’ actions of Forest Heath residents, police and volunteers were commended at the district’s annual Crime Prevention Panel Awards on Sunday October 12.
The ceremony, at Mildenhall Social Club, celebrated the feats of nominees from Mildenhall, Brandon and Newmarket, from battling burglars and assisting at traffic accidents to supporting police services.
A total of 31 certificates in eight categories were awarded, recognising the achievements of the police, partner organisations, volunteers and members of the public.
Acting Chief Inspector Matt Rose and Chief Constable Douglas Paxton attended the ceremony.
Among the winners were Penny Overy, a manager at Cambridge Care Company, who helped to catch a burglar after he targeted one of her elderly clients.
“I was really surprised to win and really overwhelmed, but it was really nice to be reconised in the community,” she said.
Penny, who lived in Barton Mills at the time, arrived at the home of a client in Mildenhall to find the front door locked.
“It was obvious to me when I arrived that something was not right,” she said.
“This guy had let himself in, and he answered the door. I think he thought he was letting in his accomplice and had to think on his feet.”
Penny went upstairs to her client’s bedroom, where the man was with her and had an open hold-all beside the bed.
The man left the house quickly, but Penny phoned the police and together they commenced a search around the town. He was eventually found and charged with attempted burglary.
Another commended resident was Master Seargant Adam Wright, from Mildenhall, who tackled a man with his father-in-law who was attempting to break into his van.
“My wife and her father arrived home from an evening out while I was in the house watching television,” he said.
“They noticed there was a man in the van, rummaging through. He tried to take off, by my father-in-law snatched his collar.
“I went out to the driveway, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t have any weapons on him. Then we waited with him and held him until the police arrived.”
Of the award he said: “It feels really good to be looked on positively in the community.”
Irmantas Andruskevicius, from Brandon, was leaving for work early one morning when he saw a man trying to break into his neighbour’s vehicle.
When he realised he had been spotted the man rode off on a bike, but Irmantas made chase, tackled the man and held onto him outside the house of Raymond Roach, who called the police and helped Irmantas to hold the man down until officers arrived.
Irmantas said: “I didn’t think with I did it, it was just instinct. If I had had time to think I might not have done it, because he could have been carrying a gun or a knife.”
Catherine Peck, from Gazeley, won the Lions Fear of Crime Award for her quick thinking after burglars targeted her home. She removed the keys from their get-away vehicle and called the police.
Catherine said: “I feel privileged to have won the award. It feels like I’m famous!”
The mother of three said she was at home with her husband and children at the time of the incident.
“It is a total invasion of your privacy. It was scary, but it is just something you do when you have a family to protect,” she said.
“The police came out in a heartbeat. I could not praise them enough, they have been absolutely brilliant.”
Mr Paxton said: “I was thrilled to be able to take part in this fabulous awards ceremony which recognises bravery, hard work and dedication from a whole variety of people.
“I cannot speak highly enough of all the recipients, who each in their own unique way have contributed to either combating crime, assisting those who were injured or in distress, or working to enhance community safety.”
Heather Highton, a crime reduction officer based in Mildenhall, said: “All of the nominees were of a very high standard, as always.
“We like to recognise people who help us in the community. It always amazes me that people do what they do, and it’s nice to hear about the heroic things they have done.”