This was the daring rescue in which two Rastrick firefighters risked their lives in the Boxing Day floods — a feat that will be recognised by the Pride of Britain Awards this evening.
Firefighters Andrew Lockwood, 50, and Gavin Shaw, 34, battled to save a man trapped in a raging torrent of floodwater when Mytholmroyd in Calderdale was hit by severe flooding last Boxing Day .
Their story will be featured in the Emergency Services Awards category in tonight's Pride of Britain Awards, which will be screened at 8pm on ITV.
The pair managed to pull the man from his submerged car as the vehicle filled with water, despite the potentially fatal risk of slipping into surging floodwater themselves.
When they arrived only a foot of the car was visible and the driver was submerged in water up to his chin.
They navigated the fast flowing water in their dinghy and climbed onto the roof of the car, then broke through the sunroof to reach the driver, who was suffering from shock and hypothermia.
Andrew pulled him free of the car, helping him into a rescue boat.
Gavin said: “At first we had been told there was a baby in the car too so we feared the worst when we arrived. All we could see was the Land Rover’s roof and about six inches of windscreen.”
They had a snap decision to make – wait for back-up or take a risk.
“People totally underestimate the strength of water in situations like this,” said Gavin. “If we had waited any longer the outcome would have been catastrophic.”
He added: “If we had been ripped off the roof then we would not have got out of that water.”
Both firefighters live in Slaithwaite . Gavin is married to Helen and the couple have two daughters, Leah, 11, and eight-year-old Megan.
Incident Commander Lee Benson said: “Should anyone have entered the water around this vehicle then there would have been little chance of stopping themselves being pulled into the main river and the outcome could have been fatal.
“Both individuals knew this and yet without a second thought affected the rescue.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue responded to over 70 incidents in 12 hours in Mytholmroyd as floods devastated parts of the Calder Valley, including Brighouse and Elland where it’s ancient bridge was destroyed and is now having to be rebuilt.