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Life-saving University security guard honoured by the Queen

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Published on 01 January 2022

David Porter and Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt
David Porter and Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt

A retired security guard, who studied at the University of Sunderland, almost threw away the letter offering him an MBE for his life-saving service.

Sixty-seven-year-old David Porter spent almost 30 years at the University and served a variety of roles before joining the security department, where he was employed for the last 16 years.

Speaking of the moment he discovered he had been nominated for the New Year’s Honours list, a humbled David admitted: "To tell you the truth, I thought it was some kind of joke or prank.

"I was about to tear it up and put it in the bin,” he said.

Thankfully, he had second thoughts: "I phoned my daughter and she checked the phone number out and said it seemed legitimate,” said David.

"I rang the University – I’ve retired since – and one of my old bosses said it was somebody there who had nominated me but they had not told me about it and they did not now how far it had gone.”

In 2017, David was awarded Security Officer of The Year by the Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO) for his actions during a routine patrol when he saved a suicidal woman’s life.

Then in December 2019, he helped save another woman’s life, again on Wearmouth Bridge, when she was threatening suicide.

As he waited for officers to arrive, David spoke with the woman and held her through the railings to prevent her from falling. He then helped police lift the woman to safety.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, from Northumbria Police, presented him with a Commander’s Compliment in recognition of his heroic act.

In April 2020, he received an AUCSO Certificate of Excellence award in recognition of his sustained professionalism and exceptional work performance.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, David deferred his retirement to assist the University security team.

Ever-present on campus throughout the pandemic, even when the vast majority of staff had been working from home, he finally retired in March 2021.

This article originally appeared in the Sunderland Echo