A CLIFFTOP rescue by a policeman as he headed to his shift is featured in a book recognising the bravery of officers.
Traffic officer Pc Ian Ainsley was driving from his Seaham home to start work when he saw a man standing on the edge of Featherbed Rocks, a dangerously unstable cliff at the town’s seafront.
Pc Ainsley tried to approach the man, but he was then nowhere to be seen.
Unsure if he had jumped, he continued his search and found the man a short distance away on a ledge more than 100ft off the ground.
He reached out and grabbed the visibly terrified man before he could jump, then alerted a nearby dog walker and asked her to call the police.
Before they could arrive, the man told Pc Ainsley he had planned to kill himself, had been up all night drinking and he was unable to cope with his incurable Huntingdon’s disease.
Pc Ainsley managed to lead him to safety before colleagues arrived to take him to the police station and then hospital.
He was released after treatment a week later, but the man eventually did take his own life.
The rescue, which happened in February 2009, is the only one from the North East featured in the book – Beyond the Call of Duty: Untold Stories of Britain’s Bravest Police Officers – written by BBC journalist Ben Ando and a retired senior detective, Nick Kinsella.
Pc Ainsley said his own safety did not enter his thoughts – in that moment, saving the other man’s life was all that mattered.
The officer, who has worked on the force’s traffic unit for 20 years, said: “I knew there was a sheer drop either side but I wasn’t looking at the surroundings.
“I was looking at him, and concentrating on him.”
The 54-year-old was awarded a Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Parchment for putting himself in danger to save the man’s life.
Pc Ainsley, who is due to retire at the end of the year, added: “The authors came to my home address and also the incident scene so they could get first- hand experience of the surroundings.
“Then in April I was phoned by Ben to say that my story had made it into print and the book was being released in September.
“There are far greater acts of heroism in the book than mine, but all the same it is an honour to have been included.”
Copies of the book have already been given to Pc Ainsley’s sons Luke, 15, and Josh, 18.
Beyond the Call of Duty: Untold Stories of Britain’s Bravest Police Officers is £7.99.
A small donation from the sale of each book will support the work of the charity Police Dependents’ Trust.