Viewers choose car rescue hero Paul for bravery award

Paul receives his courage award from Claire
Paul receives his courage award from Claire

A Kirkintilloch man has scooped a top award for 
bravery after he pulled two crash victims from a burning car and saved their lives.

Television viewers chose Paul Surgeon (25) as the 
winner of a special courage award on STV’s “Scotland’s Real Heroes”. 
The popular local hairdresser risked his life in a dramatic rescue on the 
Twechar to Kilsyth road in May, 2012.

Just seconds after he and fellow rescuer John Whiteford heroically pulled a teenage girl and young man free, the 
vehicle exploded and was 
engulfed in flames.

Nobody doubts without their quick-thinking, Caitlin McKinlay, then aged 18 and Kirkintilloch man Gary Grant, (26)would 
almost certainly have died.

Paul received his award from actress and singer Claire Grogan of Altered Images and Gregory’s Girl fame, on the 
final of the show on Tuesday, December 15.

He told the Herald afterwards: “I was so shocked to win. I didn’t expect it at all.

I feel very proud, it’s such a big award. It’s all been very overwhelming but I am so glad that everyone 
involved is alive and can move 
forward with their life’s.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for voting for me, it’s really appreciated.

“Being involved in this 
series just goes to show you you should live for today and not take anything for granted as you do not know what’s round the corner.

“I’ve met some amazing people at the awards night and hope to build relationships with people I met and help them and their charities in the future.”

Paul and John’s desperate race against time to save the accident victims began when they 
witnessed a car leaving the road and smashing into a tree 
before it burst into fire.

They raced to help. John somehow managed to rip a car seat free while the 
vehicle burned – badly 
injuring his back in the process – and together with Paul managed to rescue Caitlin and Grant.

Another passenger, Joanne McCormack, had managed to escape from the car but was shocked and confused.

The vehicle then exploded and was engulfed in flames.

Gary was left paralysed from the chest down, while Caitlin initially needed a 
spinal brace after suffering a broken back, neck, leg and arm.

Paul said: “I feel honoured to know I helped save lives.

“It was an instinctive 
response to the situation by me and John. I certainly couldn’t have got Gary out alone.”

Tuesday night’s programme was presented 
by Carol Smillie. Paul’s friends, family and customers had tuned in to an earlier edition of the show to see him paying a return visit to the site of the horrific crash.