Life-saver Mandy to get royal award

BRAVE Mandy Gavin is to be honoured at the highest level for her courage in rescuing a nurse from a burning car seconds before it exploded.

Richard Cornwell

BRAVE Mandy Gavin is to be honoured at the highest level for her courage in rescuing a nurse from a burning car seconds before it exploded.

She will have the day of a lifetime when she visits Buckingham Palace this autumn to receive a Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal from Princess Alexandra.

Today Clare Scarfe - who Ms Gavin saved - was chuffed to bits she would be honoured in such a way.

Ms Gavin put all thoughts of her own safety aside when she saw the terrifying crash happening on the A1071 at Hadleigh on October 31 last year.

Mrs Scarfe, 35, was trapped inside her burning Fiat Punto with horrific injuries after the collision with a Land Rover carrying gas canisters and which could have blown up at any time.

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With badly injured arms and legs she was unable to pull herself from the wreckage and could only watch as the searing flames melted the dashboard which then dripped on to her wounded leg.

Ms Gavin - who this year was overall winner of The Evening Star's Stars of Suffolk Awards - ran to the car to help, using a golf club she smashed the window so she could drag Mrs Scarfe out of danger.

“Two other women - someone called April and her daughter - came to help and we managed to get her about six feet away from the car when it suddenly blew up,” said Ms Gavin, 46, of Fritton Close, Ipswich.

“It's still so vivid and I have suffered a lot from flashbacks since.

“I still have periods where I sit and think whether there was more I could have done - I am sure dragging Clare on her back like that didn't help her injuries, but there was no way I could leave someone like that knowing that car could go up in flames any second.

“The heat was awful and parts of the car were melting inside.

“I don't feel like a hero. I think the Royal Humane Society award is lovely and I am sure it will be a great day.”

Ms Gavin and Mrs Scarfe have become firm friends - regularly going shopping and on daytrips.

Insp Geoff Nunn, of Suffolk police, is to receive a RHS Testimonial on Parchment for his actions at the crash scene.

- What do you think of Mandy Gavin's bravery? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email

- Do you know April and her daughter, aged about 19, believed to be from Hadleigh, who stopped to help? Call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.

TEN months after the accident, mum-of-two Clare Scarfe is on the mend but still has a long way to go in her battle to regain full fitness.

The bones in her left leg were shattered into little pieces - “like a bullet was shot up inside it” - and her upper arm was broken in three places.

She has had a successful bone graft on her leg but still cannot walk on it and is confined to a wheelchair - unable to even use crutches because of her arm injuries.

She has a plate in her arm but this is to soon be removed for a bone graft from her pelvis with a new plate to try and speed up the healing.

“I knew immediately because my injuries were so horrific that it would be a long process but didn't think it would be as long as it has been,” said Mrs Scarfe, an orthopaedic nurse who lives with her husband Ashley, and children Ashley, 14, and Charlie, 12, in Vale Lane, Kersey.

“The latest operation on my leg has been a success, thank God, so I don't have to lose my leg.

“It is frustrating but I have to be as patient as I can.

“Mandy and I have become great friends - she is really lovely.

“I cannot tell you how chuffed I am she is getting this award for the wonderful thing she did. You cannot repay someone for saving your life and she deserves the recognition.”

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