Police officer who risked his life to save Whaley Bridge's Toddbrook Reservoir to find out if he has won bravery award

A police officer who risked his life to save Toddbrook Dam from collapsing and flooding Whaley Bridge will find out tonight if he has won a national award for his bravery.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 9:41 am

PC Geoff Marshall has been nominated for a Police Federation Bravery Award and will go up against more than 40 other nominees from forces across the country.

The emergency at Toddbrook Reservoir began on August 1, 2019 when damage to the spillway at the dam was discovered after days of heavy rain.

There were real fears the dam could collapse and the water could cascade down and flood the town of Whaley Bridge as well as the surrounding area,

PC Geoff Marshall, a hero during the Toddbrook Reservoir crisis

PC Marshall was off duty when news of the damage first emerged. But he soon leapt into action.

An emergency operation to save the dam was launched with emergency services, partner agencies and volunteers all heading to the site while more than 1,000 residents in Whaley Bridge were told to leave their homes.

PC Marshall volunteered to work on the spillway and secured himself with a rope while his colleagues passed sandbags down. He was told by engineer David Brown ‘you will have between 30 seconds and two minutes to get off the dam if it collapses’.

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Sandbags at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge

For around two hours, officers and mountain rescue teams worked to place bags on the wall, giving the team enough time to temporarily secure the dam.

The operation continued for days as water was pumped out of the reservoir, before finally, on August 7, it was declared safe enough for those residents who had been evacuated to return home.

Derbyshire Police Federation Chair Tony Wetton said: “Were the dam to have failed, it is highly unlikely any of those involved in the sandbagging operation would have survived.

"All the officers present elected that they could not stand by and risk the death of around 2,000 people, including colleagues, without doing something.

Emergency incident at Toddbrook Reservoir, Police on Dam wall

"There were numerous officers involved in the incident and I would like to acknowledge their bravery and outstanding efforts too but PC Marshall went over and above the call of duty while thankfully supported by his colleagues.”