Award-winning cop wins more hearts with proposal to ex-wife

Date: 11 Jun 2007
If it wasn't enough that Superintendent Stephen McIntosh had just won an award for his bravery in saving people's lives - the policeman won over the hearts of the 800-plus audience when he proposed to his ex-wife on stage. McIntosh was on stage on Friday when he and his partner, Inspector Hendrik Visser, won the Debis Emergency Hero of the Year Award at the Sandton Convention Centre. The two policemen were chosen from a group of 300 finalists and eventually won the coveted award for saving the lives of 17 people trapped in shacks during a fire. McIntosh and Visser were on the trail of a Pretoria-based criminal when they received a call from their station alerting them to a runaway fire. They rushed to the scene and, armed with only a wet duvet, McIntosh and Visser broke through a section of wall, braving the incredible heat and flames. "I thought if I die here today, at least it's with someone that I like," said McIntosh, referring to his partner. Once all the residents were safely out of harm's way, the duo then returned to the inferno to try to save the people's property and possessions. "We are very pleased to have won this award, but we don't think of ourselves as heroes. After all, we are just policemen doing our jobs," said Visser. McIntosh said that Friday night didn't feel real to him because as a policeman, the last thing you expected was to win an award. "It was an unbelievable feeling to win," said McIntosh. "But it doesn't feel real. As a policeman you don't really get recognition. It felt like being treated like royalty." McIntosh said he made a bet with Visser that if they won the award, he would propose to his ex-wife Trudy and try to make a go of their relationship once again. She accepted immediately, leaving most people in the audience with tears in their eyes. "I've never had an opportunity to do something like that in front of 800 people. The first time I proposed it wasn't very romantic, so I said that if I ever got the opportunity to do it again, I would do it properly," said McIntosh. "It was nerve-racking, but I did it and I am so glad she said yes. I put her on the spot, though, because she is a very private person and she was a bit cross with me." McIntosh added: "Sometimes people forget that, as policemen, we leave our families behind to protect other people's families on a daily basis, and I wanted to show Trudy that I am truly committed to her." The two policemen won an all-expense-paid trip overseas, a cash prize and international training in their discipline. By Angelique Serrao The Star 11/06/07 e1