Mum honoured for breaking up brawl on Barnstaple-bound Tarka Line train
A mum who single-handedly prevented a mass brawl on a Barnstaple-bound train has received a bravery award.
Naomi Spencer, 45, of Crediton, was presented with the award at a special ceremony held by British Transport Police.
The single mum put herself at “considerable risk” after stepping in to stop two groups from fighting on a busy commuter service bound for Barnstaple in October 2010.
She was presented with a certificate of commendation by Chief Constable Andrew Trotter at the awards ceremony in London on Friday.
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British Transport Police said the rival factions had clashed earlier in the day in a pub in Exeter over a historic murder.
After being split up by police, both groups then later caught the same Tarka Line train. Tensions flared after the 5pm service left Exeter St David’s station.
Ms Spencer, who was returning home from her hairdressing job in Exeter, said she stepped in when one man entered the carriage and began provoking six members of the rival group.
She said: “The six lads started having a go back at this other one lad who was already covered in blood from the earlier fight.
“Okay, he’d had a go at them but I didn’t really care about what had gone on beforehand. I just thought six against one? That’s not on.
“There was a lot of swearing and bad language. I’m a single mum and I thought I can’t let this happen on a busy train. A lot of the passengers seemed worried about what might happen.
“It was out of order so I told them to pack it in and I gave them clear instructions that I wanted them to stay apart. I just wanted everyone on the train to be safe. I think if I would have ignored things, the situation would have got far worse.
“I’m a short, dumpy woman – but I just gave them a ‘mum’ look and told them to stop messing around.
“I just wanted to get home – as did everyone else on the train. It was a Friday evening, I was tired and I just wanted it to stop.”
Due to the ongoing incident, the train driver was given permission to reverse the train back into Exeter St Davids so that it could be met by BTP officers who dealt with the youths involved.
Ms Spencer added: “I didn’t really think about what I was doing at the time. I just thought, I’m a mum and I have a son – if he was in this position, I’d hope that someone would do the same as me and stop the situation from escalating.”
Chief Constable Andrew Trotter said: “I was very pleased to be able to present Naomi with such a prestigious award for her incredibly brave actions, which were absolutely outstanding and undoubtedly prevented the situation between these two groups becoming far worse.”