A knifepoint robbery victim from South Shields has been honoured for her bravery during the terrifying crime.
Rachel More was a student in Carlisle when the shocking incident occurred in March, last year. It happened in broad daylight as she walked from her house to a university campus.
Miss More, 22, courageously resisted as the two masked male robbers, both brandishing blades, sought to steal her bag, which contained a laptop on which the final-year law and criminology student had written almost two-thirds of a 10,000-word dissertation.
She suffered a cut to the thumb of her writing hand as the holdall was snatched. The two men then fled along with a female accomplice.
In the wake of the robbery, a shocked Miss More ploughed on with her studies, eventually completing the dissertation and obtaining her degree.
"A guy came up to me, asking for my bag; I said no," Miss More recalled of the robbery. "He showed me his knife. There was a bit of a struggle. Another guy came over, pulling on him, and the girl came over as well and was pulling on me.
"I was absolutely petrified. My first instinct was to run - but my legs didn't want to go. It was just to protect my laptop really."
Miss More's thumb injury required several stitches. But the incident left mental scars, too.
"It has had a really big impact. After the incident I didn't really want to leave the house by myself; all my friends were taking me places. It stopped my going to uni for a bit as well," said Miss More, who harbours hopes of becoming a police officer.
"Now I have got to think about what is going to happen, where everything is, how much money I have got in my purse before I go out just in case it happens again."
Miss More, who now lives in South Cumbria, was speaking after being honoured at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday in recognition of the exceptional bravery and tenacity she showed during the shocking incident.
She attended the ceremony with her mother, Germaine More, and grandfather Ernest More, both of South Shields.
Her mother said of her daughter's ordeal: "It was a real shock. All I wanted for her to do was for her to come home but she was saying she was fine. She was not really fine but she did persevere. I am really proud of her."
Miss More was commended by Cumbria's High Sheriff, the Rev Richard Lee, and received a £750 reward from public funds.
Judge Peter Hughes QC addressed the award ceremony, and said of the robbers: "Clearly they were on the lookout for a passing victim. But in Rachel More they got more than they were bargaining for."
He added: "This was a devastating experience and it is right that her bravery in standing up to her robbers should be marked with this award."
* The three robbers - Tony Lockwood, Robert Phillips and Gemma Moore - were sentenced at the crown court earlier this year to a total of almost 17 years in prison.