Two Chippenham police officers were awarded for their bravery in rescuing a man and woman who fell into an icy cold river.

PC Tim Stevens, 26, and PC David Turner, 40, were commended by the Royal Humane Society at a Wiltshire Police awards ceremony on Monday, held at police headquarters in Devizes.

It was 9pm on a bitterly cold night in March last year, with the air temperature below freezing, when police responded to a 999 call of someone in the River Avon.

Officers were driving through Monkton Park in a 4x4 when they heard screams for help coming from between the golf course and the Baydon’s Lane blue bridge.

PC Stevens, who has been a police officer for five years, said: “There was a female wading to keep afloat but a male was face down and unconscious. Instinct kicks in. There’s no time to think, you just react.

“Dave ran and got a buoyancy aid and we removed our body armour.

“The river was pretty fast-flowing and if we went in too far we would have been swept away by the current.”

PC Stevens got hold of a tree further down the steep and muddy embankment and formed a human chain for PC Turner to hold onto, as he entered the pitch black river and pulled the man’s face out of the water.

He kept hold of him until a fire crew arrived and helped everyone to safety.

The 57-year-old man and 48-year-old woman were taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia but both recovered well after a night in hospital.

PC Stevens said: “It was a really nice feeling to know you’ve had a direct impact on helping someone. Being that he was unconscious, we don’t know what the outcome might have been if we hadn’t found them.

“It’s nice to get recognition but anyone in the same circumstances would have done the same.”

Awards were also given to 13 other police officers and staff.