Norwich Evening News readers help trace boy saved from drowning 38 years ago

Mark Annett

Mark Annett - Credit: Archant

One man's quest to find a young boy he saved from drowning 38 years ago has been successful – thanks to Evening News readers.

Mark Annett, aged around five, at Cringleford riding stables

Mark Annett, aged around five, at Cringleford riding stables - Credit: Archant

Philip Ridley used our newspaper to appeal for help in tracing the child he rescued as a 13-year-old while on holiday in northern France.

The only clue he had to go on was an old newspaper clipping that named the boy as Mark Annett, six, who lived on Leopold Road, in Norwich.

But thanks to readers of this newspaper, we were able to track down his mother, in Oxford, and – via her – her son, now living in Bratislava, Slovakia.

'I have wondered about the boy who saved me as I obviously owe him my life,' the 44-year-old father-of-three said.

'It is something I have always had in the back of my mind, hence teaching my own kids to swim early on.

'I am very grateful that he fished me out of the pool.'

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The incident happened on September 1, 1978 while both boys were on separate holidays with their parents in Martragny, France.

Mr Annett, who could not swim, had taken off his armbands and gone into the pool.

At the same time, his parents, Jane and Martin, had been distracted by a small plane that appeared to be in difficulties.

'My big sister was in the deep end playing with other kids and I edged my way towards them to join in,' Mr Annett said.

'I remember struggling and trying to keep my head above the water in a panic. I bobbed under two or three times and the last time I simply sank.'

As the boy went under, Mr Ridley, who is now aged 50 and living in Ipswich, noticed something was wrong and dived under to save him.

He brought Mark's unconscious body back up to the surface where a nearby doctor came to help.

Mr Annett said: 'The next thing I remember is being held upside down as I came round – apparently my dad and a doctor were resuscitating. I was sick and shaken up.

'I do not remember Philip, or at least I am not clear whether the memory I have of him is from the stories my family told me or if the image of a boy I have in my head is actually him.'

Do you have a remarkable story from your childhood? Email luke.powell@archant.co.uk

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