Josh's date with Prime Minister

Josh Barrett acted beyond his tender years when he realised his profoundly deaf dad was in danger from a potential gas explosion.

Josh Barrett acted beyond his tender years when he realised his profoundly deaf dad was in danger from a potential gas explosion.

The youngster, who has been learning sign language since he was a toddler, didn't hesitate to use his communication skills to evacuate his father and girlfriend from a gas-filled house last year.

The quick-thinking child - who is now eight - is set to meet the prime minister next month after being shortlisted for a national bravery award.

The schoolboy was praised by his family and firefighters after using sign language to stop the serious gas leak at his father's home in Spiers Way, Diss, from turning into a disaster.

Josh spoke of his excitement yesterday as he prepared for his first visit to London and a meeting with Gordon Brown.

The Diss Junior School pupil is one of four children across the country in line to receive the Public Child Hero award at the Spirit of Fire Awards at Wembley Stadium on May 7.

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Josh was nominated by the Fire Fighters Charity for the national award following the incident last year in which his quick actions prevented a possible fatal incident.

The schoolboy was at the home of his dad and his hard of hearing girlfriend Nichola Whiting on Saturday, June 14 when the three of them smelt gas.

Josh immediately phoned his mother Rachel, who is divorced from Mr Barrett, 39, at about 1.10pm, who told the boy to evacuate the house. He used his sign skills to warn the couple about the danger.

His father, Philip, who now lives in Thetford, last night said: "Josh is a very brave young boy and I am very proud of him. It's great that Josh is going to Downing Street to meet the prime minister."

Ms Barrett, 34, who lives in Bellacre Close, Diss, with Josh, added that she was very proud of her son.

"The firefighters from Diss station praised him so much. Philip was just about to make lunch and it does not bear thinking about what could have happened. It was lucky that Josh did something about a situation that he thought was not right," she said.

Josh, a Manchester United fan, said he was looking forward to meeting Gordon Brown before the glitzy star-studded ceremony at Wembley and was going to ask how old the PM was.

"I don't mind if I don't win. I am looking forward to the ceremony and a good three-course meal," he said.

Jon Wilby, a firefighter at Diss station and local risk manager, added: "Josh did remarkably well in what must have been very distressing circumstances. To stay calm when faced with a situation like this is difficult for anyone, let alone a seven-year-old boy."

It is the fifth time the Fire Fighters Charity has run the annual awards, which celebrate Britain's brave firemen, women, and members of the public.