The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the UK’s drowning prevention charity, has awarded a heroic teenager who risked his own life to save a swimmer.

Fourteen year-old David Castleman, a pupil at Epping St John’s school, was on holiday with his family in Sea Palling, Norfolk, last month (July) and walking along the beach when someone ran up to them saying there were people in trouble in the water.

David, who passed his RLSS UK Survive & Save gold award earlier this year, ran into the sea without a second thought and armed with his lifesaving skills.

“I could hear screaming in the distance but dismissed it as people messing around. After walking closer, a man approached us and asked for a strong swimmer. I didn’t really think too much, I just took off my shirt and ran into the sea,” he said.

Reaching the stricken pair, who both were by now face down in the water, David turned them over, realising the younger one still showed signs of life and immediately began towing him to safety.

“It was quite difficult because the water was trying to pull you out but managed to tow him to the shore,” David added.

Reaching land, passers-by instantly began performing CPR on the man, and they were quickly joined by lifeguards and other emergency services. He was then airlifted to hospital.

Another member of the public rescued the second man, but he tragically was later pronounced dead.

David is set to be awarded with a Certificate of Commendation by RLSS UK on Wednesday 17 at Loughton Leisure Centre for his brave actions, the centre where David learnt his lifesaving skills.

RLSS UK Chief Executive, Di Steer, said: “We were so pleased to hear about David using the skills he learnt through the RLSS UK Survive & Save programme to save the life of a member of public on his holiday.

“Our lifesaving award programmes teach lifesaving rescue, self-rescue and survival skills to all ages, whilst developing swimming ability and fitness. David is a clear example as to why it is important to have water safety and lifesaving skills.”

David’s swimming teacher from Loughton Leisure Centre, Maureen Bennett, added: “David was a candidate on my Survive & Save programme and I am really proud that he was able to use the skills he learnt to save the life of a person. It is so, so important to have just some basic knowledge of water safety, you never know when and where you will need to use it.”


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