HEROIC rugby player Ian Paterson who tried to save a pensioner from her burning flat, has been described by her family as a hero.

The 33-year-old dad-of-three, also known as ‘Max Attack’, of Dunlin Court, Barry, leapt on a bike when he spotted smoke billowing from a property in nearby Avocet Court, on the Thompson Street estate, after returning from a supermarket trip just after 1.30pm on Wednesday, August 27.

Ian and Jane Taylor, who also got to the scene, made desperate attempts to rescue 72-year-old grandmother Sheila Stewart from the intense heat and smoke inside the property and revive her having got her outside, but their brave efforts proved in vain and she died at the scene.

But Sheila’s appreciative family praised Ian’s selfless act and expressed their gratitude about what he and Jane and those who helped afterwards had done.

Ian said he quickly arrived at the scene and alerted neighbour Matthew to call the fire brigade while neighbour Jane Taylor informed them Sheila was bed-ridden.

Ian put his t-shirt over his mouth in an attempt to block out the thick black smoke and ran into the property.

Ian, who has done a St John Ambulance first aid course in the past, said: “Sheila was by the stairs and me and Jane tried to drag her out. You could hear cracking and the heat was melting the PVC. I was shouting for someone to give me a hand and a neighbour helped me get her to the gate.

“I started CPR and was checking for a pulse and got a faint one. I wish to God I could have brought her around – I did, but that I had kept her around.”

Ian was unable to continue CPR when Sheila was sick but continued CPR and put her on her side until emergency services arrived.

Both Ian and Jane were taken to the University Hospital of Wales where they were treated for smoke inhalation – Ian discharged later that night.

He added: “I really am so sorry for the family’s loss and if they need me for anything they know where I am.”

Ian’s partner Sarah Billings-Wakerley, also of Dunlin Court, described his effort as “fantastic.”

Sheila’s daughter, Lorna Swain, 45, said: “I’d like to say the biggest thanks to a wonderful man who did not think of himself and just went running in and was basically the person that pulled mum out. He was a real hero – he went in selflessly.

“He’s a rugby player so he’s man of the match in my eyes.

“I’d like to say thank you to Jane and everyone else who helped. When we were there it seemed like everything was being done.”