TWO Widnes taxi drivers who saved an elderly woman and her disabled son from a fire at Chestnut Court have been presented with the Chief Fire Officer Meritorious Action Award.
Hugh Naughton and James Hughes picked up the gong as Cheshire Fire Service recognised their bravery.
This award is presented to individuals who, by their actions, prevented loss of life, put themselves in danger to assist someone else, or acted in a courageous manner.
Mr Naughton and Mr Hughes, who have already been honoured with a surprise civic reception at Runcorn Town Hall, hosted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Halton, Peter and Martha Lloyd-Jones, leapt into action when they saw smoke billowing out of a flat in Widnes on August Bank Holiday Monday last year.
The two drivers rushed to the aid of the three residents who were trapped inside after hearing their frantic shouts and screams - neighbours led the couple and their 52-year-old-son to safety after smashing the windows to let them escape.
Firefighters from Widnes Green Watch arrived in minutes to tackle the blaze.
At first two fire engines were sent to the flat, off Liverpool Road, but after an initial inspection sub officer Ian Swanson phoned for back up from Runcorn fire station.
A neighbour, who witnessed the incident, said: 'They got in there fast to sort it out.'
The two men ran to the building as there was thick black smoke billowing out, and an elderly woman was struggling to get out through the window.
The woman, who was on crutches, yelled that her son was still in the building. The duo pulled her through the window and James ran for a torch while Hugh shouted at the window to lead the man to safety.
James said: 'All we could do was shout and shine the torch into the thick smoke in the hope that he would follow the noise and see the light.
'After what seemed like ages, he suddenly appeared in a wheelchair which we lifted him out of, and got him out of the house. It was very frightening for all of us, but when you're faced with that situation, you've just got to do your best.'
The fire officer who attended the scene later said: 'Without the quick, heroic actions of James and Hughie, the incident could have ended in tragedy. The victims of the fire were taken to hospital as a precaution.'