THEY are Hampshire's heroes who helped people escape rapists, tackled burglars and comforted motorists in their final moments after a crash.

The county's bravest residents have been celebrated at a sparkling awards ceremony alongside some of Hampshire Constabulary's best police officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Among those who were celebrated with a Chief Constable Award was DCI Eleanor Hurd whose team helped convict Daniel McBride, 44, of St Denys Road, Southampton, of the sadistic and brutal murder of Majella Lynch who was found at her flat in St Mary's Road with a shampoo bottle inside of her.

Joseph Miles, 16, received a commendation after he called for help and comforted motorcyclist Julie Corben in her final moments after a tragic crash outside his home at the junction of The Avenue and Catisfield Road in Fareham on June 15.

Thomas Randall, 20, was praised for his bravery after he came to the rescue of a 19-year-old woman who had been beaten and raped in Portswood Road last February. He confronted rapist Shumel Ahmed, 21, of Portswood Road, who then turned on him, allowing the teenager to escape.

Thomas then helped police track down and arrest Ahmed within 90 minutes of the attack. Ahmen was imprisoned for 14 years after pleading guilty.

Meanwhile, Olivia Amat was presented with a commendation for her bravery after she was attacked by two masked intruders who had forced their way into her New Forest home. She fought back and later managed to help officers identify one of the men, Mark Hopkins, 52, who was later found guilty and jailed.

Patricia Hatherley and Linda Yorke were also commended for their bravery after they confronted Malcolm Dutton, 34, as he viciously attacked a 66-year-old man in Wagtail Way in Fareham in August. Dutton pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced later this month.

Among the officers who were recognised was DCI Hurd who was awarded a commendation for exceptional leadership skills, victim focus and professionalism in a prolonged and challenging investigation, resulting in the conviction and lengthy custodial sentence of an extremely dangerous offender.

DC Donna Kay was awarded a commendation for commitment, professionalism and hard work after Theo Smithard-Powell, 21, his girlfriend Ellis McMillan, 18, of Cambridge Court, Southampton and Dale Ward, 22, of Lonsdale Close, Mottingham, London were convicted after stealing £500,000 worth of cars and other valuables from 72 Hampshire homes and 14 in Berkshire.

DC Jonathan Ramchurn was also praised with a commendation after Operation Wedding which saw the dismantling of an influential drugs gang working out of Basingstoke, resulting in nine people being jailed for a total of 31 years.

Meanwhile acting special sergeant Sam Berry was recognised for exemplary leadership, dedication, enthusiasm and tireless work overseeing the Special Resources Unit which assists with a variety of duties across the force. He has also taken on the role of lesbian and gay liaison officer.

And the Special Resources Unit also received a commendation for their contribution to Hampshire Constabulary.

A number of officers and members of staff were also recognised with long service medals during the sparkling event, including DC Jacquelin Doran, PC Michael Florit, Kerrie Lacey, Susan Bray, Wai Bennett and Carolyn Lovell.