A HAVE a go hero has spoken of his pride after chasing down a mugger and returning a pensioner's Christmas savings to her.

Damian Mendyka tackled the robber after the man snatched an envelope containing £2,500 from a 68-year-old woman outside Barclays Bank in Blackburn town centre.

The woman had only just collected the money from the bank in Darwen Street when she was mugged.

The 28-year-old, works at KQF Foods in Blackburn, said: "I was really happy because I had helped this lady at Christmas time and had saved her money for the holiday season.

"This has never been about wanting a reward.

"We both feel really proud about helping someone who needed it.

"It's not about the money.

"It's about the honour and help to the second person.

"You can't just go on the street and steal from an old lady."

Police said a grey-haired man grabbed the envelope containing the cash as she left and ran off with it.

Mr Mendyka's girlfriend Agnieszka Perz, who was with him at the time stayed with the victim while her partner chased the thief.

Miss Perz said the couple had parked their car at Barclays car park and were on their way to Farmfoods, on King Street, when they heard a loud scream.

The 35-year-old said: "We looked around and then saw an old woman trying to catch the guy who stole her envelope.

"She was screaming 'he took my money, he took my money'.

"I told my boyfriend to catch him and he ran after the thief.

"I then went over to help the old lady because I was worried about her safety.

"She asked me where I was from and I said I was from Poland. She said she was Italian."

Within seconds Damian had caught the thief and grabbed the money, returning the envelope to the pensioner from Darwen.

Miss Perz added: "I told my boyfriend to let go of the thief as soon as he got the envelope back.

"I was worried that the thief had a gun or knife in his pocket.

"My boyfriend gave the envelope back to the lady before we even knew how much was inside.

"The lady was still in shock and so we helped her get back to the car and stayed with her until the police came around 20 minutes later."

Detectives, who have launched an appeal to find the thief, said they are examining CCTV and conducting forensic tests on the envelope as part of investigations into the incident at around 12.25pm on Saturday November 18.

The thief, who is described as white with grey hair, was wearing a grey jumper and was seen running towards the Zy Bar on Market Street Lane after being tackled by Mr Mendyka.

Insp John Fryer hailed the man as the ‘hero of the hour’ for his and brave actions.

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern added: "It's an amazing story and heart warming to hear stories of people doing the right thing in their community."

Cllr Yusuf Jan-Virmani, ward councillor for Audley, where the couple lives, said: "This is a brilliant story.

"It shows this is a community about helping each other, particularly older people who are more vulnerable than others.

"This is something that highlights how younger people are coming out to help when there is less and less police on the streets.

"The man could have had a gun or a knife for all Damian knew, so to risk himself in this way is not an easy decision to make."

Cllr Roy Davies, mayor on Darwen Town Council, said: "For me this is a really nice story.

"They deserve a reward and they should be recognised for their services to the community,

"It shows we have some really nice citizens in the borough."

Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade, has said: "I'm delighted that some people are such an example to the rest of us on how to behave.

"We need to look out for each other in all circumstances as part of our responsibility to the community."

The incident is still under investigation and anyone with information on this incident should call police on 101.