A homeless charity manager risked his life to save a suicidal 17-year old in a dramatic incident on a railway bridge in Leyton earlier this year.

Dave Larvin, a Service Manager at London-wide homeless charity Single Homeless Project (SHP), was presented with the Metropolitan Police’s Commendation Award for Professionalism, Outstanding Teamwork and Bravery for the heroic act.

In May, the 17-year-old girl, who was living in SHP’s supported accommodation for young people in Waltham Forest, left the home headed in the direction of Leyton station in a distressed state, having told another resident she was going to end her life by jumping off a bridge.

Dave followed her and found the teenager trying to scale the enclosed 60ft high bridge, which overlooks the A12 at Leyton Station.

He tried to restrain her, but she managed to get free and climb onto a thin metal bar stretching across the domed roof of the bridge.

Dave followed her up onto the bar and continued to restrain her until he was joined by three police officers, who called for further back up.

Three more officers arrived on the scene and a fire rescue team had to cut away a section of the bridge to get the girl to safety.

She has since recovered from her ordeal and, having received support with her mental health, is now studying at college.

Dave was presented with the award by Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker after being nominated by an officer who had attended the scene.

Dave said: “Sadly it's not uncommon in our work for young people to threaten suicide, but I immediately recognised this was different. I saw the determination on her face, and the disassociation whereby I'm not even sure she knew it was me talking to her. We had a great relationship and it was so unlike her.

“She had what felt like superhuman strength and she broke free. What happened next is a blur, I just remember struggling with her whilst also trying to ensure we didn't both fall onto the tracks below. It went on for 20 minutes. I don't think I've ever felt so alone.”

Det Ch Supt Tucker said: “David demonstrated amazing personal resilience and bravery dealing with this incident. He acted in a way that all decent and good citizens do. He made a difference and without a doubt saved this young woman’s life.

“As anyone who works in a public facing service knows, mental health is now one of all of our biggest demands, but the scale of the task should never deflect from our shared objective to look after the vulnerable in society.”

Dave added: “While this was an extreme incident, it does underline the fact that in recent years the complexity of support needs among vulnerable young people has been on the rise. Cuts to mental health services in particular mean that charities like ours are dealing with ever more challenging needs.

“Many young people are struggling with a history of trauma or neglect, leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm, stress, bullying, low self-esteem and eating disorders.

“Too often, mental health interventions are only available once triggered by a crisis, by which time much of the damage to the young person has been done.

“We are working to develop our own in-house psychological support services, but funding is very difficult to come by. More resources are urgently needed to provide preventative support and early intervention.”