The Argus' Pride of Gwent awards were held earlier this month, in which a plethora of dedicated volunteers were hailed for their hard work during the pandemic. Here we highlight just one of them.

PC MARK Powell’s quick actions and persistence stopped a woman from taking her life and have been recognised with the Pride of Gwent Lifesaver Award, sponsored by the South Wales Argus.

The individual who put him forward said he alone was responsible for keeping her alive and giving her hope.

South Wales Argus: PC Mark Powell

PC Powell had been the investigating officer in relation to a case in which the woman was a complainant, and as time went on she suffered a decline in her mental health.

“I e-mailed a few friends and family and also PC Powell; there was no mention or what I was planning, just a standard thank-you e-mail for all he had done,” she explained.

“Something about that e-mail worried him and that night he came to my house. I ignored his calls but he stayed, contacted a friend and did not give up until he got to me. He stayed with me until I admitted how low I had become and talked me out of my plan. He arranged victim support counselling and kept a check on me. If it was not for this officer I would not be here today.”

Before becoming a police officer, PC Powell served in the British Army, joining as a young soldier and going on to be selected to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1992 to train for commissioning. He retired from the army after a full career in command but felt he still had a useful part to play and joined Gwent Police, in which he’s served for 11 years. During this time he’s been determined to remain ‘at the coal face’ refusing promotion to ensure he’s able to support people.

“I have enjoyed senior command but now it’s time to give a little back and I’m afraid that promotion would take me away from the public and put me behind a desk,” he explains.

Recalling the events of the evening that have led to his award, he says: “One day I received an e-mail which caused me some concern. Whilst it would have been easy to discard the e-mail I sensed that something was not quite right; I too have struggled in the past following Operational Tours in the Army and recognised that the individual was at a low point. I decided to check up on her and I’m glad that I did.

“Every day as a response policeman is different. In one particular day I delivered a baby on the lawn at 4pm and an hour later caught a burglar climbing the garden fence on his way out of a house, whilst later that same evening I had to deal with a sudden death of a young man.”

PC Powell recently received a Chief Constable’s Commendation following a particularly harrowing call with a new born baby in cardiac arrest.

Along with his police work, PC Powell is a foster parent and over 15 years he and his wife have cared for 19 babies and 14 teenagers. Currently they have three in placement who are all doing well.

“I sometimes joke that I go to work in order to get a rest,” he laughs.

The South Wales Argus has been serving the people of Gwent since 1892 and has long been a trusted source for the latest local news.

Over the years the newspaper has been based in different parts of Newport, recently relocating to the Chartist Tower as part of the city’s regeneration.

Keeping readers up to date has meant the Argus has had to move with the times, with breaking news and sports stories reported quickly on its website and through Twitter and Facebook.

Editor Gavin Thompson says communities in Gwent have been at the heart of the Argus throughout its 128-year history.

“Nowadays, just as when the Argus was founded in May 1892, this newspaper has been alert to the events affecting our county and the people who live within it. We’re proud to run the Pride of Gwent Awards to shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes that make such a difference within our communities.”

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