A Horsham father has been praised for ‘immense courage’ in rugby-tackling a man who had stolen thousands of pounds worth of watches from a town jewellers.
Peter Downes received the Outstanding Courage Award at Sussex Police’s West Sussex Divisional Awards Ceremony at Arundel Castle on Monday July 7 which honours police officers, staff, and volunteers for exceptional service to the public.
This time last year he rugby-tackled a man running out of West Street’s TH Baker with thousands of pounds of Breitling watches and along with fellow passer-by Matt Lewis, helped restrain him until police arrived.
Speaking to the County Times after receiving the award Peter said: “It’s really humbling and it’s very nice people have recognised what I did, and while I do not dwell on it I’m very grateful for the accolade.”
He added: “I still think it was an instinctive act. I have played rugby for over 20 years and when you look at the CCTV people are quite impressed that somebody was able to do it so quickly and the police officers thought it was pretty impressive rugby tackle.”
He said his six-year-old son Jack was delighted to share the day and the award with him.
Chief inspector Simon Beardwell said: “As a result of Mr Downes’ quick thinking and robust intervention, the stolen property was recovered and the suspect charged and convicted.
“Peter Downes is commended for the immense courage he displayed during this incident which enabled the police to bring the matter to a successful conclusion.”
Peter also received the ‘Local Hero’ award at the County Times’ Community Awards last November.
Hundreds of people, including dignitaries from across Sussex packed into Arundel Castle’s stunning Baron’s Hall to witness the awards ceremony.
The event, now in its fourth year of being held inside the historic building, is organised to mark the remarkable efforts of police and members of the public.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “You hear words at ceremonies like ‘courage’, courage in the face of adversity.
“You hear words like ‘tenacity’ – staying until the end of the job not just because it’s 5pm and your shift is ending but because you actually want to see this through.
“And then there’s the determination of catching the offender. It’s great to come to these events and I think the words that have been said before about the bravery of those awarded is always very humbling.”