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Man, 84, rescued after falling into pond and struggling to float for an hour

PUBLISHED: 07:12 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:29 02 July 2020

Barry Briggs and his granddaughter Saskia. Picture: Supplied by Greg Ryan

Barry Briggs and his granddaughter Saskia. Picture: Supplied by Greg Ryan

Archant

An 84-year-old man who fell into a fishing pond and struggled for more than an hour to keep afloat was dramatically rescued by members of his family.

Barry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg RyanBarry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg Ryan

Barry Briggs had been out fishing in the pond, which he had built himself during his retirement, when he fell in on June 20, at around 10.15pm.

Son-in-law Greg Ryan said it happened on Mr Briggs’ property in Smallburgh, near Stalham, and said Mr Briggs was lucky to have survived.

He said: “He was leaning over, trying to fill up a bucket when he went in face first.

“He was wearing heavy fishing gear, a big, heavy coat, hat and wellies, in six feet, six inches of water. It’s quite remarkable he managed to live through it.”

Barry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg RyanBarry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg Ryan

Mr Ryan said Mr Briggs, who can barely swim, struggled for more than an hour, constantly slipping below the surface but managing to pull his head above water again by grabbing hold a sapling by the edge of the pond.

Hi wife, Eileen, 86, who had been shielding, called Mr Ryan and his wife Amanda after she started to get worried when Mr Briggs failed to return to the house.

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Mr and Mrs Ryan and their daughter, Saskia, 17, drove over from their home in Swafield, and finally found Mr Briggs in the water at 11.20pm.

Barry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg RyanBarry Briggs was rescued from his pond at Smallburgh after his granddaughter, Saskia, spotted him. Picture: Supplied by Greg Ryan

He said Saskia was the first to spot him, guided by the light of her phone.

Mr Ryan said: “It was pitch dark. He had his head and part of his chest out of the water, but was too exhausted to move. Together we pulled him out and got him to safety on the bank.”

Thankfully, Mr Briggs - a retired insurance manager - did not need to the taken to hospital, and has been recovering at home.

“It was another 45 minutes before we got him back on his feet again, and we drove him back up to the house,” Mr Ryan said.

“He said he thought he was a goner. He was quite scared of the situation but so relieved afterwards.”

Mr Ryan said it had always been Mr Briggs’ dream to retire and build a fishing pond. Mr Ryan said: “He said he thought he was going to die in his favourite swim.

“This determination and fitness from years of physically hard work building the pond no doubt helped him to survive this near-death situation.”

Mr Briggs was able to use his fishing rod to fish his hat out of the pond the following day.


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