A 64-YEAR-OLD hero fought off a knifeman in a clifftop struggle to thwart the mugging of a pensioner and his terminally ill wife.
Michael Spencer jumped in to defend victim John Jenkins when two assailants grabbed him at Paddy’s Gap, near Cliff Road in Milford, and tried to pull the Rolex watch from his wrist.
Michael, from Pennington, said “instinct” took over, telling the A&T: “Some people in life act on the spur of the moment. I’m one of those people who if someone needs help, like a lot of people in life, I try to do what I can.
“It was a frightening experience. When the guy turned round he had a knife sticking out at me. He poked it at me and then grabbed my arm.
“But I grabbed him under his arm and pushed him back, and he stumbled a little. He still had the blade in his hand when he ran off.”
Michael, who was formerly a child protection officer and ran a cleaning business at Ampress Park, has been hailed a “hero” by Timothy Jenkins, son of John (79) and Sue (87), who has terminal cancer.
Timothy said: “Obviously we, as a family, are so thankful to him, and mum and dad have said they want to write to him specially. Both of them are so shaken up. We are all in shock.
“Mum is coming to the end of her life and you don’t expect something like this to happen. It’s a sad time for all of our family and, especially at this moment, we did not want any more stress and are so grateful to Michael for coming to help.”
Sue, who was recently given weeks to live by doctors, had gone with John to look at the sea at Paddy’s Gap, and had been sitting on a clifftop bench at around 7.30pm on Sunday.
Timothy said: “They were approached by a couple – a man and a woman – and asked for the time. Then the man grabbed my dad’s wrist and held onto it and was trying to pull his watch off.
“My dad is quite a stubborn guy and was resisting and shouting out for help. Mum was shouting out too.
“The guy was also saying he wanted cash and their phones, but unknown to my dad and mum, Michael was sitting on the rocks nearby, and as dad was shouting out for help and mum was shouting out too, Michael appeared out of nowhere.
“He went into what dad called hero mode or defence mode and said, ‘Leave these people alone’. This guy [the attacker] then got out a knife and there was pushing and shoving between the man and Michael before the man and the woman ran off in different directions.
“It all happened so quickly. [Michael] was an absolute hero. God knows what would have happened had he not been there.”
Afterwards Michael telephoned Timothy, and two passers-by helped Sue and John back to Shorefield Holiday Park where they were staying.
Timothy added: “Mum and dad just wanted to relax. They’re vulnerable, it’s just shocking. I just want to say thank you to Michael but also to warn there are people like this out there.”
Sue and John, who now live in France, have been married for 49 years and both served in the Second World War, John in France and Sue with the RAF.
After the war Sue worked with vulnerable children while John was an engineer. Over the past four decades they have made numerous trips to stay at Shorefield, having fallen in love with the New Forest when they first visited early in their married lives.
They were in the area visiting places they have loved, and meeting up with friends and family in the wake of Sue’s diagnosis.
It is not the first time Michael has been a hero. In 2006, when living in London, he dived into the Thames and rescued two young children – aged four and six – from drowning.
The youngsters were drifting near Chertsey weir and he was given a special bravery award by Spelthorne and Runnymede borough councils for his efforts.
Michael said: “On Sunday I had gone down to the rocks to look out to the sea. I probably do that about six or seven times a week as I love that view there.
“I moved to the New Forest from London for a quiet life and, to be honest, I’m still in shock myself. It all happened so quickly.”
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said the incident had been reported and was under investigation. Those with information should call 101 quoting 44200369314.