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Brave officer set to meet new PM

Brave Leicestershire Police officer Katy Burnham will enjoy a moment in history on Thursday when she attends a Downing Street reception set to be hosted by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, as part of the national Police Bravery Awards.

The former Home Secretary, who becomes PM tomorrow evening, is scheduled to welcome all nominees for this year's awards to the traditional reception at No 10.

"The national Police Bravery Awards are one of the highlights of the policing year," says Tiff Lynch, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, "They honour the brave and selfless acts of police officers across the country; officers like Katy who have put their own lives at risk to protect the public they serve.

"The Downing Street reception on the afternoon of the awards gives the Prime Minister of the day the opportunity to meet the nominees and this year it could well be that the Prime Minister has less than a day in post before hosting such a prestigious event.

"The fact that the new Prime Minister is the former Home Secretary responsible for a major overhaul of policing is quite interesting."

Katy, who is a beat officer based at Keyham Lane, was at home preparing to go to work in August 2014 when she heard an alarm going off nearby and within minutes she had saved a vulnerable man from a burning building.

The alarm was constant and showed no sign of letting up, so Katy went into the street to investigate and saw thick smoke coming out of the windows of a property nearby.

She knew the man who lived at the address was Jan Bielski (90) who suffers from dementia and immediately called the fire service.

Meanwhile she began to bang on the front door of the property to get his attention. Katy was unable to get into the house as all the doors were locked but through the window she could see he was on the phone.

Jan eventually let her into his house but walked straight back inside towards the kitchen where the fire was well ablaze. He began throwing water on the flames but this had no effect.

Despite Katy's best efforts at speaking to Jan, he would not leave the property and so she had to escort him from his home, being mindful of his age, his difficulty in walking and his mental wellbeing.

Once out of the property, Jan wanted to go back into the house and Katy had to use a combination of restraint and communication skills to make sure that he did not go back inside.

It later transpired Jan had been on the phone to his daughter at the time of the incident. She has said had Katy not taken the action she did the outcome could have been totally different, stating: "If it wasn't for her quick thinking and courageous actions, my father would have most certainly been killed in the fire."

Katy, who joined the Force in October 1999, has already been awarded a Chief Constable's commendation for bravery and received an award from The Society for the Protection of Life from Fire in March 2016.

After the Downing Street reception, the brave officers will attend the awards ceremony at The Dorchester Hotel. Katy will be accompanied by her partner Stephen Rayner.