A trio of young sea cadets from South Tyneside have been praised for their part in a daring river rescue that helped saved the lives of two men.
Hebburn Sea Cadets boating officer George Heron was on a training exercise on the River Tyne with staff member Ryan Smurthwaite, 13-year-old Jamie Neve, and 15-year-old Tamara Gray, when they spotted a man trapped under the quayside in Newcastle.
At first they thought the man was dead, but as they got closer realised he was still alive. A second man was also spotted further under the quayside clinging to the wooden structure.
They were helped in Sunday morning’s rescue mission by a friend, Ray Hubble, who was out on the river with his son Chris, 14, also a Hebburn Sea Cadet.
Mr Heron said: “It was Jamie, who spotted the man. At first I thought it was a dead body. I instructed Tamara, who was at the helm of their boat, to get closer, and saw he was still alive and clinging to the wooden structure.
“The water was moving quite quickly so we had to act fast as both men were in grave danger and at risk of being washed away.”
Had it not been for the quick actions of the cadets and boating officer, it could have been a very different outcomeCaptain Phil Russell RN
Eventually, both men were coaxed into letting go of the structure and the river swept them down stream.
Tamara drove the boat after them, while Jamie got the first aid and life saving kit ready. Mr Heron dragged one of the men to safety and Ray and Chris managed to rescue the second man.
Mr Heron added: “Hypothermia was setting in for both men and a few more moments and they would have been lying on a mortuary table now.
“I can’t fault the sea cadets. None of them are trained in this area but all three kept a level head, didn’t panic and followed instructions which inevitably saved the lives of these two men.”
Emergency services were called but the men both left the area before they could be attended to.
Mr Heron said: “Not only did the cadets actively take part in the rescue of these two men but they also saw first hand the dangers jumping into a flowing river.”
Coun Richard Porthouse who sits on the committee of Hebburn Sea Cadets said: “For the sea cadets to do what they have in such a life-threatening situation, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Cadet unit captain Phil Russell said: “One of our qualified volunteer adult instructors assessed the situation, and it quickly became apparent two men in the water were in difficulty and in need of help.
“Had it not been for the quick actions of the cadets and boating officer, it could have been a very different outcome.
“Jamie, Tamara and Chris showed maturity beyond their years, and they should be commended on keeping so calm and composed.
“Their actions are testament to how Sea Cadets – as a national youth charity – helps young people to develop confidence and self-belief, as well as essential maritime skills. We are very proud of their efforts.”