Man saved in dramatic river rescue

Published: May 31, 2008 | 7084th good news item since 2003

A dramatic rescue took place on the River Yare outside Norwich yesterday after a man broke his shoulder bone when his dinghy capsized, tipping him into the water.

Ashley Richardson was unable to swim to safety due to his injuries after falling into the water outside Coldham Hall Tavern, in Surlingham.

As he desperately tried to stay afloat, Norwich’s Riverside Lifeboat, based at nearby Brundall, was dispatched to pull him from the water.

Today, Mr Richardson, 56, spoke from his bed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, to tell of his gratitude towards his rescuers.

He told the Evening News: “I’ve broken and dislocated my shoulder, but it could have been much worse.

“If the lifeboat had not been there, I’d still be there now or floating down the river dead.

“I was trying to moor the dinghy and stood up to grab the wooden railings. I had both legs in the dinghy, but it suddenly pulled away.

“I fell in the river and was hanging onto the railings. I felt my shoulder go and I was hanging on for dear life.

“I could not move because I was in so much pain. I was in the water for about five to 10 minutes.

“Someone from the pub came out to help me and luckily the rescue boat was right opposite, thank goodness.”

Mr Richardson, who runs a taxi business in Uppingham, Rutland, has been staying with a friend in Brundall this week, and the pair had taken the dinghy out for the first time yesterday afternoon. Both men were wearing life jackets.

When Mr Richardson, who has two children and two step-children, put his hand on the wooden railings to tie up the dinghy, it moved away, leaving him hanging on.

The jerk dislocated his shoulder and he was tipped over into the water.

The commotion was heard at the Coldham Hall Tavern, and licensee David Barnes, 30, rushed out to help.

Mr Barnes said: “I put a ladder into the water for him to grab onto, but he could not move so he could not grab it. Luckily, the rescue boat then arrived.”

Leslie Mogford, who runs Norwich’s Riverside Lifeboat, was working nearby and sent the boat out to rescue the man.

Mr Mogford said: “With all the cries for help it was obvious that he was in some distress, so we sprinted for the lifeboat at the yard and launched the boat.

“When we got to the scene we managed to get the man into our dinghy and make him as comfortable as possible.

“We administered basic first aid to him and called the ambulance. He was obviously soaking wet and in so much pain he could not talk.”

The rescue highlights the importance of the river rescue service. In recent years it has struggle for funding, meaning its volunteers have had to help finance it on several occasions.

Earlier this week, the Maritime Volunteer Service, which operates Norwich’s Riverside Lifeboat, was given a financial boost when it was named as the civic charity of the city’s new Lord Mayor Jeremy Hooke.

The service, which operates with a crew of three, including a trained paramedic, is based in Brundall but also uses Norwich Yacht Station, on the River Wensum, during its patrols of the river.

It can be called on by police or coastguards in emergencies, which can be life-saving, to somebody who finds themselves in difficulties in the river.

Published in Rescues
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