Celebrating Scotland’s #CourageousCops – PC Christopher Starkie and PC Daniel Gabrielli

Perth Police HQ - by Ninian Reid via Flickr

With the annual Scottish Police Federation Bravery Awards taking place next week, today we conclude a series of posts highlighting our Courageous Colleagues from across the country winning an award at the event on 30 November.

Ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. #ItsWhatWeDo

PCs Christopher Starkie and Daniel Gabrielli bravely tried to save a family from the cold waters of the North Sea


Two police officers who courageously tried to save a struggling family from the cold waters of the North Sea have won a Scottish Police Federation Bravery Award.

PC Christopher Starkie was off duty when he rushed to the aid of the Walker family, after Samuel (6), his brother Lucas (13) and their mother Julie (37) got into difficulty.

Samuel was swept out into the choppy waters, so Julie and Lucas went in to retrieve him. A number of onlookers called the police when the trio were unable to reach the shore.

PC Starkie, a rookie officer with just two months’ experience at the time, was on the beach when he became aware of what was going on and sprinted down to the seafront.
He managed to pull Lucas to safety, with the help of those in the water, saying: “I carried him onto the side so he was well away from the water, put my jacket round him and just hugged him.”
Lucas, shocked and distressed, was taken for hospital treatment and has thankfully made a full recovery.

PC Daniel Gabrielli was one of the first officers on the scene. Having previously been a lifeguard, he made the decision to swim into the water to rescue Julie.

He said: “I saw the female floating in the water, and I thought she’s close enough. Knowing that the coastguard could be another 15 minutes, I did the only thing I felt was right, and entered the water. It was fairly choppy but I managed to swim my way through it and get to the female, get her out of the water and with the assistance of my colleagues, we managed to get her off to the side.

“I had to make a judgement call on my own capabilities and the conditions of the sea, and certainly from what I saw, I felt confident enough to be able to get to her.”

Nine officers helped him pull Julie from the sea and deliver CPR: Sgt Ricky Burr, PC Gareth Patterson, PC James Gorham, PC Dan Connolly, PC Tim Addy, PC Graeme Raey, PC Kev Lynch, PC Fergus Loughrey and PC Rory Drumm. However, Julie sadly died a short time later.

Sadly, the youngest child Samuel was dragged out to sea by the tide and was recovered by a lifeboat. He later died.

The officers will attend a Parliamentary reception at Holyrood on 30 November before an evening awards ceremony where one overall winner will be named. This is the third Scottish Police Federation Bravery Awards, which honour officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

Andrea MacDonald, Chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “This was an extremely fast moving, unpredictable and dangerous incident – and when confronted by such scenes, officers have to make split second decisions.

“The fact that PC Gabrielli risked his own safety in entering the water, shows what a hero is. And PC Starkie’s efforts in rescuing Lucas were equally courageous. This was a very sad day but these brave police officers did all they could, saving a teenager’s life in the process.

“It is so, so sad there could not have been a better outcome on this day and the thoughts of the Scottish Police Federation remain with the family and relatives of those involved.”

The awards are sponsored by Police Mutual and the hashtag for the event is #CourageousCops.

Stephen Mann, Chief Executive of Police Mutual, said: “These annual awards are well-known for recognising inspiring acts of courage by police officers and members of the public. This year is no different, and we are once again reminded that outstanding bravery is being demonstrated every day in communities across Scotland.

“The winners are a credit to their family and friends, their communities, and the wider Police Service.”


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