A BRAVE panto star came to the rescue of a real damsel in distress in a Christmas Day drama that could have ended in disaster.

Michael Pickering, 27, who plays the lead in the New Victoria Theatre’s smash hit rendition of Dick Whittington, became a real life hero when he and fellow star Dewayne Jameson Adams, 28, stumbled across a woman lying unconcsious in the canal.

But none of their stage training could have prepared them for what they found.

Michael said: "It was quite a scary situation and the adrenalin kicked in straight away. We could easily have walked past and not found her – it could have been dreadful."

The pair were walking back to Michael’s digs in Horsell after grabbing some dinner in the town centre.

As they crossed the canal at the bridge near the Lightbox they heard a faint cry for help.

Michael went on: "There was a bit of confusion when we first heard the call. We knew something wasn’t right and it was only after we’d taken another 10 paces that we agreed to go back and make sure everything was all right."

With understandable caution the duo left the main road and made their way towards the source of the distress call.

Dewayne added: "We thought we were going to get mugged. At this time of year you never know what is going to happen, we couldn’t see anything but we knew we had to at least check."

On the towpath they found a very anxious man who claimed his friend had fallen into the canal. Without hesitation the pair began scanning the edge of the water and the banks for the woman.

Dewayne said: "I had to use the light from my phone to find her and that’s when we saw her lying face down, up to her waist in the water.

"The woman was unconscious and we had no idea how long she had been there." Dewayne, part of the Dick Whittington ensemble, immediately ordered the man to call 999.

But the pair were not out of the woods yet. Michael and Dewayne made sure the woman did not sink any further into the murky waters but their rescue soon hit a snag.

"We had no time to waste but we couldn’t move her because there was no way of telling if she was injured," said Michael. Eventually the woman, named only as Debbie, came around and confirmed that she was fit enough to be moved.

The heroes slid down to the water’s edge, pulled the woman from the freezing canal and safeguarded the victim until an ambulance arrived eight minutes later.

Dewayne said: "The fact that both of us were there was a blessing.

"There is no way either of us could have pulled her away from the canal without the other."

The modest pair even played down their festive heroics. Dewayne said: "We were never just going to walk on – that’s not my mentality. I’m just happy and grateful we were there to help."

And Michael added: "It’s not a situation you ever want to find yourself in and, for me, it was a case of the right place, right time, with the right two people."