THREE brave men who grappled with an armed robber as he tried to raid a Widnes jewellers have been hailed as heroes.

Two balaclava clad men startled shoppers as they rode a motorbike along the pavement to Neil and Barkers in Green Oaks shopping centre.

Brandishing a sledghammer, one of them started smashing one of the shop windows.

A security guard tackled him as he was breaking the glass and was hit in the face.

The manager of a neighbouring store managed to surprise the robber from behind, kicking his feet and forced him to fall over.

As the villain put up a struggle, a passer-by came to the rescue and helped to hold him on the ground until police arrived.

Shop owner Mike Aldridge said: “I want to thank the security guard, the store manager and the passer by.

“Without them, this guy would have got away with £25,000 worth of watches if they hadn’t acted so quickly. The passer by will be getting a reward from us.

“The police were fantastic. Their response time was absolutely marvellous, first class.”

A 19-year-old homeless man has been charged with attempted robbery and remanded in custody.

Detectives have released a CCTV photograph of a motorcyclist they want to speak to in connection with the incident which happened shortly before 3.30pm on Thursday, May 8. The security guard was not seriously hurt.

The motorcyclist fled and was seen in the Fairfield Road, Chapel Road and Arley woods areas of Widnes.

DS Mark Naylor said: “I would like to thank members of the local community for their assistance. It was really good work from one member of the public who managed to restrain one offender.

“Our enquiries are ongoing and I want to reassure the public that we take all incidents of this nature extremely seriously.”

Mr Aldridge added: “The most important thing is that none of the staff or any of the people involved were seriously injured. That is a blessing.

“The last thing we want is to risk anyone getting hurt or injured. People were running in all directions screaming and shouting. There were lots of elderly people walking by who were absolutely petrified. I’m sure it will put them off coming into Widnes for a while.

“The staff in the shop were very shaken up.”

Anyone who can recognise the motorcycle or the man riding it is urged to call Cheshire Police on 101.