A policewoman saved a woman from a freezing lake on the birthday she shared with her twin sister who drowned after a car crash.
PC Nikki Burkitt, who grew up in Bourne, was working in Telford on the night of December 11 last year when she was called to a possible suicide.
Nikki and her colleague PC Craig Edwards rushed to the town park to find a woman drowning in a boating lake.
Without hesitation Nikki jumped into the water and rushed out to the woman, who was floating face down about 35m from the shore.
The freezing temperatures made the situation dangerous, but Nikki’s thoughts flew back to her twin sister Michelle Ingram, who died in July 2007 aged 33 after her car crashed into a ditch in Langtoft.
Her car left the road and finished upside down in a ditch in six feet of water.
Nikki said: “Seeing the woman in the lake brought back terrible memories and I couldn’t face someone else drowning. All I thought about was my twin as I jumped in.”
She grabbed the woman, dragged her back to shore and started trying to revive her. When that didn’t work Nikki put the woman on her shoulder and started running towards paramedics, who couldn’t get to the water’s edge. Somehow the movement jolted the woman awake.
The woman, aged 20, had been trying to take her own life, and initially asked Nikki why she had saved her. But Nikki stayed in touch with the family and visited the woman in hospital several times.
She said: “I explained to her about my sister. Over time she then said she was glad I had saved her.
“She was in a really bad place herself and had lost someone very close to suicide.”
Nikki’s bravery was recognised by West Mercia Police, who gave her a Chief Constable’s Commendation. And she has also been put forward for a Royal Humane Society award, which she will receive later in the year.
But the best thing for Nikki is that she can now take positive memories from a day that previously brought nothing but pain.
She said: “It turned a negative day around. I never celebrated my birthday until that year because half of me had gone.”
And she added: “I would do it all over again.”
Nikki’s parents Margaret and Barry Burkitt still live in Bourne. Nikki said: “Mum and dad were really proud.”
Earlier this year Nikki was part of a team of more than 20 cyclists who rode from Peterborough United Football Club to Brussels over four days. The team smashed their target of raising £20,000 for the Free Kicks Foundation, a Peterborough-based charity which provides football experiences for ill, bereaved and deprived children.
Nikki dedicated her cycle ride to Michelle and said the memory of her sister kept her going.