March teenagers win top award for saving boy from the sea at Wells

March Scouts James Richardson (left) and Aaron Spencer. Picture: Steve Williams.

March Scouts James Richardson (left) and Aaron Spencer. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Two heroic teenagers who ignored warnings to stay in shallow water during a seaside camp in order to save a 10-year-old boy from being swept out to sea are to receive top national life-saving awards.

Wells Beach, where the rescue took place. Picture: Archant library

Wells Beach, where the rescue took place. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Colin Finch

The incident took place at Pinewoods Beach at Wells on the afternoon of August 19 last year.

James Richardson, 17, of Elliott Road, March, and Aaron Spencer, 13, of Berryfield, March, were at the beach on an oouting to the beach.

They were in the water with other scouts when Aaron spotted a boy on an inflatable boat with paddles who appeared to be in distress. A woman was parallel with him on the beach shouting to him to row towards the beach.

However, the wind and the ebbing tide were taking the boy farther out towards Holkham Bay. Despite the conditions, warnings of rip tides and the fact he had been told to stay in shallow water, Aaron swam 100m out to the boy, took hold of a tether line on the inflatable and began swimming towards the beach towing it.

James Richardson who spotted what was happening then joined Aaron and together they towed the boy and the inflatable back to the shore.

Now both of them have been awarded Royal Humane Society Testimonials on parchment for their actions in saving the boy from being swept out to sea.

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And they have also won the personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, secretary of the Royal Humane Society.

As he announced the awards at the Society's London headquarters he said: 'The boys had been advised that they should stay in shallow water. But when they saw the 10-year-old in danger of being swept out to sea they went after him.

'Thankfully they did. Although conditions were not bad that day, the tide was on the ebb and the breeze was carrying the boy and his inflatable out to sea. If they had not acted when they did there could have been a tragically different end to this incident. They may well have saved this youngsters life and richly deserve the awards that have been made to them.'

The awards follow a recommendation from James Richardson's father, PC Phil Richardson, who was also on the beach.

He said: 'From much experience of the coast, I am well aware of the dangers of inflatables being blown out to sea and subsequent rescues at sea.

'Arron and James' quick identification of the situation and selfless regard to assisting another person may well have saved the life of the child, their actions showed that they were, in this incident, courageous, considerate and selfless. They showed bravery and went over and above that which I would expect from Scouts.'

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. Its president is Princess Alexandra and it is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

Since it was set up in 1774,it has considered over 86,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards. The Society is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.

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