On Tuesday night millions tuned in for the annual Pride of Britain Awards which celebrate members of the public who have acted in extraordinary ways to improve the lives of others.
Nine-year-old Renée-Mai received the Child of Courage award for her remarkable bravery protecting her family when they were held hostage for an agonising eight hours.
The family were held hostage by Leonard Brown, 54, who had carried out odd jobs for the family and had erupted into a rage when he observed other men were also helping the family out. It is believed that Brown had developed an obsession with Renée’s mother, Katie Bolter.
Mother Katie was at home with her two daughters, Renée and her baby sister, when Mr Brown entered the house with a can of petrol and threatened to kill the family.
Brown proceeded to put his knee across Katie’s chest and start hitting her as she sat on the sofa beside her children. When Reneé-Mai tried to act as a shield and protect her mother, Brown punched the young girl in her face. “I was trying to stop him but he was just attacking me, I was terrified – not only for myself, but for my children. Renée-Mai was so brave to confront him,” said Ms Bolter.
The ordeal got worse still for the family when Brown mercilessly made a lunge for then-eight-month-old Lexi, Renee’s little sister, who was on the sofa. At this point Renée-Mai did not hesitate in throwing herself in front of her sister to protect her, accepting a second series of punches to her own head and body instead. Renée-Mai said, “I was very frightened but I knew that I had to be brave and protect my baby sister.”
Managing to remain calm enough to think and act logically during the terrifying attack, Renée-Mai had the presence of mind to hide her mother’s mobile phone under her clothes when she spotted it. This turned out to be a critical move, which later saved the family.
The family were forced upstairs to mother Katie’s bedroom, where they were held hostage overnight. Brown told them he would kill them if they attempted to escape. At 6am Mr Brown went to the toilet and it was then that Renée-Mai handed her mother the phone and the police were called to the house.
Attacker Leonard Brown was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in jail.
At the awards televised on Tuesday Renée-Mai received her award from the X factor presenters Cheryl, Simon and Louis. Simon Cowell told the young girl, "we think you are the bravest person in the world." Renée’s mother, who was sat in the audience with tears in her eyes, said that if Renée had not acted as she did during the attack, "we'd have been dead. I'm so proud of her."
Now aged 10, Renée Mai said, “I was scared and it has given me nightmares, but I am feeling better now.” She added, “I’m proud to have helped save my mum and Lexi.”
Renée on stage receiving her Child of Courage award