A policeman who nearly died after being stabbed several times by a "maniac" with a screwdriver has been named the bravest officer in England and Wales.

PC Alex Stypulkowski, from Epsom, was the overall winner at the annual Police Bravery Awards held in London, last Thursday.

The 27-year-old was presented with his award by Home Secretary Theresa May for risking his life to apprehend a mentally ill man, who had previously taken his own mother hostage. 

Arriving at the scene, PC Stypulkowski chased the man but became separated from his colleagues, some of whom were armed, and found himself alone in a dark road with the man. 

He told the police officer ‘You’re going to die’ and brandished a screwdriver. While the two men were locked in a struggle on the ground, the man stabbed the PC repeatedly in his upper back and neck, narrowly missing his jugular vein.

Another police officer arrived to help and, despite his injuries, PC Stypulkowski continued to pursue the armed man and eventually captured him.

PC Stypulkowski, a former pupil at Therfield School, in Leatherhead, said it was the most frightening situation he has faced since his career began in Hampshire in 2007, but he was back on the beat within weeks.

He said: "Police officers deal with violent situations every day, but this was extreme. 

"He was very keen on trying to kill me. Often people are violent and aggressive, but their main objective is to get away, not to attack and hurt you."

He added: "I always wanted to do the job because I feel you can genuinely make a positive difference, protecting vulnerable people and catching the bad guys.

"Police officers are out there doing remarkable things every day and my story is not unique.

"The fact that situations which officers are facing are getting more media coverage can only be a good thing."

He said receiving his award was a humbling experience which was "not just about me".

He added: "I’ve learnt how much the police are like a big family and that’s how I can go out and do my job every day."

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, said PC Stypulkowski "deserves the highest praise" for his courage and determination.

He said: "Knowing the risks, PC Stypulkowski fearlessly put his own life on the line to pursue this very dangerous offender.

"This award deservingly gives recognition to his sheer professionalism and selfless actions."

His "immensely proud" father Douglas Stypulkowski, who lives in Chase Estate, Epsom, said he had a "sickly feeling" when his son called to tell him he had been hurt.

He said: "I always knew he had the personality suited to being a good police officer, and, at the same time, I have the anxiety shared by any parent who has a child on the front line who comes into contact with danger on a daily basis. 

"It was a frenzied attack and the potential injuries would have been fatal. But like a military wife, you hold your fears at bay and support them through it as best you can."

Sue Willman, headteacher at Therfield School, also paid tribute to the brave policeman and offered the school's congratulations to him.

She said: "Alex was a very positive member of our school community, who achieved excellent examination results.

"His strength of character and community spirit were apparent throughout his time with us and I was not surprised to hear he is excelling in his chosen career and that his bravery has been recognised."