MOST people would run away from a burning building when faced with smoke and flames, but not Natasha Jerams.
The 42-year-old from Widley was just one of the people recognised last night at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s annual awards ceremony.
She has been praised by firefighters for saving a young boy from a blazing flat after a sofa caught fire in the building above her hairdressing salon.
Natasha heard a loud bang from the flat, and when she went outside to investigate, she saw smoke billowing from the windows above.
She ran up to the flat to check if anyone was inside, and found a 12-year-old boy standing next to a burning sofa, frozen in panic.
Natasha led the youngster to safety before the fire took hold and the flat was destroyed.
Last night she was presented the Chief Fire Officer’s certificate of congratulations in recognition of her bravery, and was one of the only civilians to be honoured at the ceremony.
Natasha said: ‘I felt really honoured to have picked up this award, especially as a civilian among a group of firefighters.
‘It’s been quite inspirational hearing all of their stories.
‘I didn’t really think about what I was doing at the time, I just did it because I knew there was often someone up there and wanted to make sure they were out.
‘I’m glad everything ended the way it did.’
Natasha was one of dozens of people presented with awards at the headquarters of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service last night.
The fire happened on December 21 last year, in the shopping precinct in Crookhorn.
Crew manager Martin Earl, from Cosham fire station, nominated Natasha for her award.
He said: ‘If she hadn’t done what she had, we would probably have been dealing with a fatality that day.
‘The young lad obviously didn’t know what to do, and as happens sometimes, he froze.
‘It’s thanks to Natasha that he was able to escape before we arrived and things didn’t have a worse outcome.
‘It means we didn’t have to launch a rescue and it’s right for us to recognise her bravery in this way.’
The Hampshire Fire and Rescue ceremony is held every year to honour exceptional work of the fire service’s staff, both in times of emergency and out in the community.
The evening included a presentation of a number of long-service medals and the winners of a wide variety of awards.
Many of the winners were voted for by members of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Some were honoured for their volunteer work, and the way they raise money for charity or help the community.
The awards were attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Lynne Stagg, and the chairman of the Hampshire Fire Authority, Royston Smith.
Dame Mary presented medals and badges to members of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service who had earned their Long Service and Good Conduct medals.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, John Bonney, said: ‘Everyone here should feel rightly proud of what they have achieved, whether they have won or not.
‘They can be proud of their contribution to making Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service one of the best in the country.
‘We are an organisation that tries to make people’s lives safer, and I firmly believe that our people are our strength.’