AN off-duty detective saved a woman’s life when she grabbed her to stop her jumping off a bridge.

Det Sgt Hayley Lambert was on her way home to Colchester when she saw someone on the wrong side of the railings on a bridge over the A12, near Marks Tey.

She went to investigate and spoke to the woman for about 20 minutes.

She even shared a cigarette with her to break the ice – even though she doesn’t smoke.

But disaster almost struck when back-up arrived and spooked the woman.

Hayley said: “When police arrived to put a block on the roundabout, she panicked and jumped backwards.

“I managed to grab hold of her for about ten seconds until I could help her back over the edge.”

Hayley has been was awarded the Wilson Trophy for the most courageous act of the year at Essex Police’s annual awards ceremony.

She said she was simply acting on instinct during the incident last November, and did not even consider the risk to her own life.

She said: “I do not really know what was going through my head because I was just trying to edge closer.

“When I thought about it afterwards, I realised the weight of her could have sent me over the edge, which is scary, because I have a young family.

“I have dealt with similar incidents before, but this was the first time anyone had jumped and I did not have my radio or any other equipment.”

The drama unfolded when Hayley, who works in Tendring, was driving home in the early hours.

She said: “I thought I saw someone, so I dialled 999 and went to investigate.

“After breaking the ice, I spoke to her for about 20 minutes.

“I noticed she had some cigarettes in her pocket so asked for one, even though I don’t smoke. It was disgusting!”

Hayley, who held on to the woman until officers arrived to help, said the woman had been suffering with mental health issues.

She said: “I am glad she got the help she needs.”

Award judges also noted how she goes above and beyond the call of duty, such as her work with the family of a pregnant teenager who died of heart failure in Dovercourt.

She was handed the award by Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh.

She said: “I was totally shocked at winning, but it was an absolutely fantastic night.

“It is such a big trophy – it is like having the FA Cup at home.

“To hear all the amazing stories was brilliant and there are so many tough shifts, but the acknowledgement you are doing a good job keeps you going.”