Alton Towers Smiler crash survivor Joe Pugh was rendered speechless by tears on stage as he shook hands with the men who saved him.
Brave medics risked their lives to save the victims of the rollercoaster accident, including University of Huddersfield student Joe, and now they have been presented with a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award by those they saved.
Army doc Major David Cooper, 34, para medic Tom Waters, 27, and Dr Ben Clark, 40, were the Midlands Air Ambulance crew who aided those hurt on the Smiler ride on June 2.
They ignored safety rules to scale the ride and help 16 casualties, including Joe’s girlfriend 18-year-old Leah Washington, who lost her left leg.
Survivor Joe, of Barnsley. who has been left with serious leg injuries, said: “We are ridiculously grateful for what they have done.
“I got emotional watching it all back on the video, and on stage it felt so real. I cannot say it enough what they have done for us.”
Joe is studying textiles design at the University and hopes to resume his course shortly.
He and Leah were guests on a glittering awards night a London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, which will be screened on TV tomorrow night.
Paramedic Tom Waters said: “This means a lot, but for us to receive this award and then look at them, the survivors, they are so brave. They are amazing.
“And we need to remember there is a whole team of people who do this job and would have done what we did on any other day.”
Major David Cooper said: “The patients are the real heroes. They have shown exceptional courage. And we would do what we did again in a blink of an eye.”
Dr Ben Clark added: “The fear for us that day was not being high on a rope, it was having four incredibly sick patients and thinking ‘Are we going to win?”
Richard Hammond and Jimmy Carr both praised the bravery of the medics as they joined the rollercoaster crash survivors to hand over the award
Hammond said: “Their boss told them not to do it - but he was probably hoping that they would - and they did.
“That’s the point, that there are people who will go above and beyond - literally- and put themselves in danger in order to help others.”
Carr said: “They clearly saved the lives of the two girls, they were both going to die up there.
“They say they are just doing their jobs but that would have been turning up and saying ‘we’re not going up there’.”
Watch Joe Pugh explain the events of the accident below.