Daniel Nicholson and Joel Snarr were honoured at the St David awards, which are awarded by the Welsh Government

By Robert Harries

Two Welsh men who risked their lives to pull a family of three from a burning plane that crashed on a busy road have been handed St David Awards by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Daniel Nicholson and Joel Snarr were among the winners in the annual awards, announced on Wednesday evening, that celebrate and recognise exceptional achievements by Welsh citizens.

It was on May 12, 2019, that teenagers Jack Moore and Billie Manley were flying to watch Cardiff City play Manchester United with their uncle Stuart Moore.

But disaster struck when the plane hit overhead power lines and came down on the A40 near Abergavenny. The aircraft then burst into flames.

You can read more about what caused the crash here.

The pilot and his two young passengers were in severe danger, and might not be alive today were it not for the bravery of Mr Nicholson and Mr Snarr.

“I was driving back to Abergavenny – I had been picking up my son after he had stopped over at a friend’s for the night,” said Mr Nicholson about that day.

“It happened so quickly. It came from nowhere trying to take off from the airfield which runs parallel to the road. I didn’t see it coming – it just came out of the trees, hit the power lines and the trees,

“Within an instant it just crashed into the central reservation and burst into flames.

“Another second later it would have hit us, that’s how close it was.”

Sales manager Mr Nicholson then jumped from his car to try to help those inside.

“As I got closer the whole plane was engulfed in flames – it had turned upside down so the flames were on top.”

As for what he saw inside the aircraft, he said: “I’ve never heard fear like it.

“I could only see one, the pilot, and there was a very small window at the back. He tried to smash through the window but there was no way it would break.

“At that point I could see flames coming over, the smoke was getting stronger. I didn’t start to panic but I didn’t know what to do.

“Thankfully at the rear there was a crack in the window there. I thankfully got it open enough, and there were two people in the back.

“They were conscious but screaming. Jack got his arms out and I managed to pull him out. His sister was in a lot of distress and she said ‘I can’t do it’ so I convinced her to put her arms out and Joel thankfully came from the other side.

“Literally as soon as we got out the plane was completely engulfed and exploding.”

Joel Snarr, a former bomb disposal expert, said: “Your brain struggles to register that what you’re seeing is actually happening and it takes you a few seconds to realise it’s real. It’s something you never expect.

“In my Army days I’ve been in much more high-pressure situations than most people. You don’t think about it at the time and it’s only afterwards that you realise what happened.”

Mr Nicholson and Mr Snarr both received messages from the survivors and their families.

Jack Moore, who 19 at the time of the crash, said: “Absolutely unbelievable that me and my family have walked away from this, just want to say thank you to the passers by that helped us at the scene and also the emergency services.

“Thanks everyone for the messages, really appreciate it not quite up to replying to everyone at the moment – we are very lucky people.”

Daniel Nicholson and Joel Snarr have now received the award for bravery at the St David Awards 2020, to add to the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Award they were given in October last year.