THE hero neighbour who pulled a mother from her burning home, then returned to try to save her young daughter was today praised for his bravery by the child's grandmother.

As Jane Harrison said she was "extremely grateful" to Tang Hall resident George Smith after he rescued Kelly Stephenson from a blaze at her house, it emerged he was to be nominated for a bravery award.

Mrs Harrison, whose son, Daniel, is Kelly's boyfriend, also thanked Evening Press readers who donated clothes for Kelly's two-year-old daughter, Alisha.

Alisha was rescued by firefighters from her bedroom after a chip pan fire caused devastation in the house in Rawdon Avenue in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Kelly remains in hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation, but is expected to be released in the next couple of days.

Mr Smith, 29, pulled Kelly out of the flat, and then returned three times to try to save Alisha before he was beaten back by smoke.

Mrs Harrison said: "We just want to say thank you to George and to everyone who made donations.

"Alisha was asleep upstairs in bed and her door was closed. If it hadn't have been, then the smoke from the fire would have gone straight up.

"Thankfully, both of them are all right. Kelly is upset but is grateful. When we look at the house we can't believe that anyone got out.

"George has been absolutely superb and I think he was very brave."

Meanwhile, Mr Smith will be recommended for the Chief Fire Officer's Certificate of Merit, York fire chief Graham Buckle said.

Mr Buckle, York group manager for North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, said he would be nominating Mr Smith for the award because of his extraordinary actions on Thursday morning.

Mr Buckle said: "Obviously we wouldn't recommend anyone entering a burning building, but Mr Smith took all the right precautions and we can say he was extremely brave."

Mr Smith said: "This is fantastic news. I wasn't thinking about anything like that, I just wanted to get them out. I did it because it needed to be done and I would do it again without hesitation."

Updated: 10:11 Saturday, March 26, 2005