Deeside hero honoured for pulling a man out of a burning car

Matthew Robertson (right) with childhood friend Stuart Donaldson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Matthew Robertson (right) with childhood friend Stuart Donaldson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

A Deesider who pulled a man out of a burning car seconds before it exploded was presented with an award by Nicola Sturgeon earlier this month.

Matthew Robertson, a project engineer in oil and gas from Durris, was nominated by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for the Brave@Heart award, which he received at Edinburgh Castle on October 6.

Recounting the incident, which happened in February this year, Matthew said: “It was just one evening, my mum was driving me into Aberdeen on the South Deeside Road when we came across an accident that must have happened about a minute before we got there.

“There was one woman at the scene already, who came running over to us - she told us what had happened and that there was a guy still in the car that was on fire.

“I just ran out to his car and managed to drag him out - we got about 10 or 15 metres away and it exploded.”

Fire officers who arrived later at the scene said the man would certainly have died if not for Matthew’s intervention.

Matthew added: “It’s one of those interesting things that you think about - if this happened, would I be able to act? I had always hoped I would but I didn’t really know.

“In the moment, I saw the fire up to the bonnet, and I knew I either had to save him, or watch him burn and live with the guilt.

“I know afterwards people have said what a great thing it was, but really, I was just in the right place at the right time.”

In total, 45 people were commended for their bravery at the awards, made up of a combination of emergency services personnel and members of the public.

The First Minister said: “Hearing first-hand accounts of the bravery demonstrated during these events really drives home the incredible strength of character and the selfless acts undertaken.

“It’s vital for us to cherish and encourage that concern for others and we should be so proud.

“The awards are an opportunity for Scotland to say thank you. Their selflessness, compassion and courage is inspiring, and are an example to us all.”

There was an extra surprise for Matthew when his childhood friend MP Stuart Donaldson came to the ceremony.

Speaking after the event, Mr Donaldson said: “I have known Matthew since I was three years old and went to primary and secondary school with him - it was a real privilege to attend the awards ceremony and see matthew receive his award for Bravery from the First Minister.

“His family and friends are rightly very proud of him.”

Matthew said: “We’ve known each other since we were small but we’ve both gone to different universities and done different jobs and lost touch a bit.

“It really meant a lot for him to come up for the awards and it was wonderful to see him again.”