Caring South Shields neighbours praised after helping to bring people vulnerable down from Marsden cliffs

Two caring neighbours have received police honours for stepping into help bring two vulnerable people down from a dangerous cliff-edge.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 1:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 8:44 pm
Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt with Geoff and Diane at Millbank Police Station.

Diane Smailes, 64, and Geoff Haywood, 63, displayed outstanding bravery after they both spotted somebody in crisis on Marsden Cliffs within weeks of each other.

After seeing a woman on the cliff edge at Marsden Grotto on November 18, 2019, Diane crossed the barrier and sat with her while a friend phoned police.

At one point, the woman stood up and Diane took hold of her arm to stop her falling – before officers arrived and brought them to safety.

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On January 5, 2020, Geoff was walking his dog when he saw a man had gone over the cliff edge and was holding on to the grass with his hands.

With help from others nearby, Geoff dragged the man to safety before police left him in the hands of healthcare professionals.

The pair, who live close to each other in South Shields, were unaware of each other’s actions – until they were invited into Millbank Police Station last week.

There, they were presented with commander’s compliments by Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt.

Chief Supt Pitt said: “Unfortunately it is not uncommon for us to receive calls about vulnerable people who are in crisis on one of our region’s cliffs or bridges.

“Thankfully there have been countless occasions when officers have managed to save people’s lives by bringing them to safety, and with support from our partners, ensure they receive appropriate support so they don’t find themselves in the same position again.

“When Diane and Geoff heroically stepped in, they were the first people to spot the vulnerable person in crisis – and it would have been easy for them to ignore what they saw.

“While we would not encourage members of the public to put themselves in harm’s way, by acting decisively and quickly, Diane and Geoff managed to save those people from harm and showed incredible compassion and bravery in the process.“They should both be incredibly proud of their actions, and I thought it was only right to thank them personally on behalf of the force."