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Norwich man who saved kayaker from drowning receives special award

PUBLISHED: 18:53 18 April 2018

Will Spalding saved a man from drowning in the River Wensum and has now been awarded a Royal Humane Society award. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Will Spalding saved a man from drowning in the River Wensum and has now been awarded a Royal Humane Society award. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A Norwich man who risked his own life to save a kayaker in trouble on the River Wensum has received a special award for his actions.

Will Spalding saved a man from drowning in the River Wensum. Pictured, the area of the river near The Queen of Iceni pub where the man was saved. Picture : ANTONY KELLYWill Spalding saved a man from drowning in the River Wensum. Pictured, the area of the river near The Queen of Iceni pub where the man was saved. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Twenty-three-year-old Will Spalding has been hailed a hero by the Royal Humane Society and given a special award following his bravery last summer.

Mr Spalding, who lives in the Newmarket Road area, was having lunch with colleagues at the Queen of Iceni pub on Riverside in July last year when one of them spotted the stricken kayaker and Mr Spalding dived into the River Wensum to help him.

The man’s kayak had capsized and he had disappeared under the fast flowing waters, but Mr Spalding searched the river and found him submerged about four feet underwater. He brought him back to safety and the man went on to make a full recovery.

Mr Spalding’s heroism has led to him now being given a Royal Humane Society testimonial on parchment and he has won the personal praise of the society’s secretary Andrew Chapman.

“He was a true hero and more than merits the award that has been made to him,” Mr Chapman said.

“The man was underwater, had stopped breathing and was literally second’s away from death when Will reached him. Time was of the absolute essence but no-one else on the bank had felt able to go into the water. Will didn’t hesitate though. It’s trite to say it but he truly was the right person in the right place at the right time. If he hadn’t been there this would have ended up as a drowning incident.”

Mr Spalding is extremely modest about his actions and, speaking immediately after the incident, he said: “Had I not [jumped into the water] I would not have been able to live with myself. It was a life or death situation...Most people who are half decent swimmers would have done the same.”

He said while he was proud to have received the award, it felt a bit surreal.

“It’s really nice to be recognised by the Royal Humane Society,” he added.

He said the incident had been a traumatic experience and that he had been in shock for a day afterwards.

Looking back he said what happened that day had also inspired him to think about making changes in his own life. He left his job in sales, went to work as a ski guide in Austria for a season, and he now works as a video production specialist for EDP and Evening News publisher Archant.

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