TWO policemen and a retired officer who tried in vain to save a pensioner's life have received letters of appreciation from St John Ambulance.

PCs Michael Trodden and Wayne Barrigan went to a house in School Aycliffe where a 73-year-old man had been found face down in the garden pond by his disabled wife.

The police had been alerted to the pensioner's plight by Sedgefield Borough Council's Carelink, which had received an alarm call from his wife.

A neighbour of the couple, Brian Gargate, had gone to the woman's assistance after hearing her calls for help.

Mr Gargate, a retired police officer, had already pulled the pensioner from the pond and was attempting to resuscitate him when the officers arrived.

The officers cleared sludge and mud that was blocking the pensioner's airways and continued with the resuscitation until paramedics arrived. Despite their efforts the man was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

The police officers and Mr Gargate were presented with St John Ambulance letters of appreciation by the Mayor of Great Aycliffe, Councillor Michael Dalton.

Inspector Ged Doherty said: "PCs Barrigan and Trodden made a prompt and professional response in attempting to resuscitate the man who had fallen into the pond.

"They responded compassionately and sensitively to his distressed wife and other family members who arrived at the house."