A FARMER who risked his life to save a stranded family of six from their flooded bungalow has been presented with the High Sheriff’s shield.

During last December's floods Blake Robinson helped to rescue people from Sandylands, including his baby god-daughter.

And he also risked his own safety to reach a stranded family of six - including two young boys and a pregnant woman - at their flooded, blacked-out bungalow at Gilpin Bridge, beside the A590 near Levens.

Blake drove his tractor and took the lifeboat crew members and their boat through surging, chest-high water to the bungalow and began extracting the family.

In all, Blake made seven trips to and from the bungalow, with one of the RNLI lifeboat crews hanging half in and half out of the tractor door.

"It was dark and wet and horrible. I can imagine it was quite cold and scary for them," said Blake. "They had been in the water for a few hours and they looked like they had been to hell and back, but with such a look of relief on their faces."

He was presented the award by The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Rev’d (Group Captain) Richard Lee RAF rtd, Darren Martland, Cumbria's Assistant Chief Constable, and Peter McCall, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The presentation was the highlight of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association's annual general meeting and conference at Sandylands Methodist Church, Kendal, on Saturday.

The Rev Jonny Gios who addressed members and described the amazing response in the town brought about by last December's Storm Desmond.

Both Mr Martland and Mr McCall pointed up the important role that Neighbourhood Watch volunteers play and how the police are supportive of the movement but also need its support in turn.

Kate Algate, the Chief Executive of the National Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network, described how her network supports local associations and volunteers and pointed out that Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary organisation in the country. It is her role to ensure that the importance and relevance of the movement is recognised by Government and other key opinion formers.

Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association chairman Joe Murray, who hosted the event, said in his closing statement: “We have seen the incredible community spirit that was created as a direct result of the floods and devastation that came with it, however, to a certain degree, a new form of neighbourliness has been created.

"I firmly believe that Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association can play a significant role by working in partnership with all communities to create and build resilience that will make Cumbria an even safer place to live and work."