I don’t care what anyone says — leaping into freezing water to rescue someone hell-bent on taking their own life is heroic.
I’m talking, of course, about PC Neal Skinner, who hurled himself off Langstone Bridge after a chap who’d been threatening to jump lost his grip and plunged 30ft into the icy water.
I wonder if we tend to forget we have a lot of Army and RAF veterans living here, as well as Royal Navy, who have very different experiences of war
It all happened on December 27 and, as my first column of 2016 was dedicated to the people who worked over the festive season to help us keep safe, warm and dry, this was a story I couldn’t help but pick up on.
PC Skinner says he doesn’t feel like a hero for jumping into the fast-flowing water to help save the man.
To him, it was his job as a police officer to do just that.
I’m sorry, but I disagree.
Was it his job? Yes, but not everyone can become a policeman for this very reason.
Ditto the other emergency services, armed forces, medical professionals — hell, even bar staff who have to clear up the mess of drunks get my vote.
But seriously, a life was saved and perhaps now the chap in question can access the help he clearly needs to try to address the PTSD from his Army tours of Northern Ireland.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that in the Portsmouth area we have a few places where veterans with combat stress can find help.
One of those is the Veterans Outreach Support based at the Royal Maritime Club in The Hard.
Perhaps this chap found help there but things became a bit too much.
Or perhaps he didn’t realise how bad things were until he found himself chatting to PC Skinner about the Troubles while clinging on to a lamppost on top of a bridge.
We’ll never know.
But what this does is serve to show how vital services like the Portsmouth VOS are for people in this area.
I wonder if we tend to forget we have a lot of Army and RAF veterans living here, as well as Royal Navy, who have very different experiences of war.
Perhaps, by bringing this to light, PC Skinner will have indirectly helped save more than one life that night.