Peter Craven, team supervisor at Burdens Colchester, has been hailed a hero by Essex Police after he helped save the lives of a mother and baby in a house fire.

Mr Craven and five other members of the public entered a burning building in Clacton last May, after they heard screams coming from inside. Working together, the group managed to get the woman and her child to safety and have been awarded the Chief Constable’s Commendation in recognition of their bravery.

The emergency services have confirmed that the mother and child would have perished if not for the quick thinking of Mr Craven and the other rescuers. Tragically, the woman’s partner died at the scene as he was overcome by smoke when tackling the blaze.

“It all happened so fast,” Mr Craven recounted. “I saw smoke coming from the house and a lady shouting for help from the top window so, together with a few others, we grabbed a ladder and rescued the baby boy followed by his mother. I’m just glad that we were able to save their lives, but I was only doing what anyone would do in the circumstances.”

Steve Ashmore, managing director at Wolseley UK, dropped into the branch to commend Mr Craven and deliver some vouchers as part of Wolseley UK’s ‘Thanks for Making a Difference’ awards scheme. He said: “I am extremely proud that we have people like Peter working for Wolseley UK. In situations like these, people act on instinct and their true character shines through. Peter is a heroic and selfless person and his actions made a significant difference that day to the local community.”

Colchester branch manager Mick Tucker also commended Mr Craven’s courage. “Peter is very modest about what he did and doesn’t see himself as a hero, but we certainly do, and the award from Essex Police endorses that view,” he said. “I’m really proud of what he did that day and am extremely lucky to have him as part of my team.”

Mr Craven has kept in touch with the woman he helped rescue and has donated a bike to her other son, who lost his own in the fire.