‘Heroes’ helped free child trapped in car

Martyn and Christine Johnson
Martyn and Christine Johnson

A COUPLE have praised the “wonderful folk of Garstang” after they were helped when their two-year-old grandaughter became locked in the ir car.

Martyn and Christine Johnson, from Wentworth, near Barnsley, were in Garstang looking after little Leyla while their son, Paul, from Catterall, was in hospital recovering from a back operation.

They had gone up to Kepple Lane medical centre to try to sort out a repeat prescription for 68-year-old Martyn, who had run out of the tablets he needs to take regularly, and Christine decided to take Leyla back out to wait in the car which was parked outside.

But after getting Leyla into her car seat the door slammed shut with the keys still inside, locking the toddler in.

“I came outside and Christine was distraught – it was chucking it down with rain and Leyla was starting to get upset’’ explained Martyn, a retired police officer.

“I have been used to a few crisis situations in my time, but when its your own grandaughter it really is something else.’’

The couple called the AA, but were told it could be 45 minutes before a patrol could reach them. They then called the fire brigade and a fire crew was despatched.

“We didn’t know how long it would take and I just knew we needed to get her out. The car alarm was going off by this time and Leyla was getting hysterical’’ continued Martyn.

It was at this point that a passer-by, Owen Cookson, who works for the community health monitoring team based at the medical centre, asked whether he could help in any way.

Mr Cookson tried forcing the back window of the car before he and Martyn decided they would have to break the window, using a snow shovel that Mr Cookson kept in his car, in order to rescue Leyla.

By now staff from the medical centre had also come outside to help and, with the window smashed and Leyla safely back in her grandparents’ arms, staff (including some from the pharmacy) set about sweeping up the broken glass from inside the car.

Another got in contact with a friend of their son, who was able to take them up to the hospital to visit Paul and other staff made cups of tea and comforted the shaken couple and their grandaughter.

“It was kindness itself, We visit Garstang quite a lot and know what a lovely place it is and how nice the people are, but this was just remarkable,” said Martyn.

“I can’t thank those people enough. To do that, to come out in the pouring rain to help two strangers out – it really does say a lot for the kindness of folk in Garstang. They were wonderful.’’

Martyn became a popular author after retiring from the police force and his first book, “What’s Tha Up to - memories of a Yorkshire Bobby”, has appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list and he is a regular giving talks at literary festivals around the country.

As a thank you to those who helped in the rescue he now wants to return to Garstang in the near future to present some of those involved with signed copies of his book.