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Young children save life of sailor, 87, who was sinking into mud

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:18 01 September 2020

Isla Amies, aged 12, and her eight-year-old brother, Pip, rescued 87-year-old James Tillett after he fell off the Cockle Pontoon in Morston creek and became stuck. Picture: AMIES FAMILY

Isla Amies, aged 12, and her eight-year-old brother, Pip, rescued 87-year-old James Tillett after he fell off the Cockle Pontoon in Morston creek and became stuck. Picture: AMIES FAMILY

Picture: AMIES FAMILY

Two young children have been hailed heroes after saving the life of a retired businessman who fell into a creek and began sinking into the water and mud.

Veteran sailor James Tillett. Picture: STIFFKEY COCKLE SAILING CLUBVeteran sailor James Tillett. Picture: STIFFKEY COCKLE SAILING CLUB

During the last hour of the incoming tide on Sunday, August 30, at Morston in north Norfolk, 87-year-old James Tillett fell off the Cockle Pontoon in the creek and became stuck while attending to his boat.

The dingy sailor, who also lost his glasses during his fall, hit his face, hands, and back on the metal chains holding down the pontoon. Unable to see, he became trapped beneath the pontoon and began to fear the worst.

He said: “It was an alarming experience, particularly with tide still coming in.

“I was sinking in the mud and very aware that I couldn’t manage on my own.”

James Tillett leading the pack in Blakeney Pit. Picture: Courtesy Kate TillettJames Tillett leading the pack in Blakeney Pit. Picture: Courtesy Kate Tillett

With no way of calling for help, thankfully his situation was spotted by two schoolchildren - Isla Amies, aged 12, and her eight-year-old brother, Pip - who were waiting for their family to return from sailing.

The pair managed to navigate the mud and tide to get him to safety.

Mr Tillett added: “I was terribly cold, shivering and very, very muddy when they got me out.

“I was thrilled that they also grabbed a boat hook and rescued my new hat and, when the tide turned, they thought to return and find my glasses which was exceptionally kind and thoughtful of the young people.”

James Tillett. Picture: Courtesy Kate TillettJames Tillett. Picture: Courtesy Kate Tillett

Mr Tillett’s daughter, Kate White, said she was grateful to the pair for helping her father, who was later taken to hospital.

She said: “They are on holiday here and have family links to Norfolk. They are clearly comfortable around these waters which was crucial in this rescue.”

Cecilia Amies, mother of Isla and Pip, said they were both very pleased to have been able to help.

The children, who are from Cambridge, said: “It was a really cold and windy day.

“We were standing on the pontoon when we suddenly heard him slip, We turned and saw him topple into the water. It was quite alarming to see him trapped under the pontoon as we didn’t know whether he could get out or even if he could breath.

“When he managed to get out it looked like he was in a lot of pain and he was being very brave.

“There was a lot of blood. It was nearly impossible for him to stand in the mud, and he kept slipping back under the pontoon. It was a big relief when we managed to get him out.

“We saw his hat floating down the creek with the tide but we managed to get a boat hook and retrieve it.

“He looked very shaken up so it’s great to know that he’s okay.”

The pair, who had come with their family to Morston for the day to sail their Drascombe Lugger moored in the creek, said they were pleased to have been able to help and return his glasses.

Ms White added: “On behalf of James and all our family we would like to thank Isla and Pip for their quick thinking and bravery in helping my father James out of the creek at Morston.”

Mr Tillett, who suffered extensive bruising and cuts, returned home from hospital on Monday.


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