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Paul to rescue in holiday life-saving mission

One of our environmental health officers became a holiday hero after saving the life of a young boy who got stranded out at sea.

Paul Brennan was on the last day of a family holiday when his trip to Dumfries and Galloway took an unexpected twist.

As he sipped his coffee – the drink being the only reason he hadn’t left Southerness Beach –  Paul was alerted to a boy who had drifted away on an inflatable.

“I hadn’t seen any of the incident unfold,” said Paul.

“We had actually been about to leave when my dad called and asked if he should bring me down a coffee. I never turn down a coffee! So I was sipping away in the sand dunes when someone asked me if it was my kid who had drifted away on an inflatable unicorn. My first instinct was that I wouldn’t be able to get him, I just wouldn’t be capable of getting him.”

Diving into action

Paul phoned the coastguard immediately and then plunged into the water when he saw his 76-year-old dad dive in before him.

He said: “He hadn’t swam for something like 40 years so I got in and told him to get out. I started swimming towards him but, again, I didn’t think I was going to get to the boy.

“My son was sitting beside me thankfully but it was evident straight away that the boy at sea was in real trouble.  It’s hard to say how far out he was but it must have been about 500m!

“I kept going for another few minutes and then I started thinking that I might have a chance. It was then that I just thought it’s ‘Now or Never’! Eventually I caught up with him and I could see he was in a lot of distress and I just calmed him down and told him everything was going to be okay.”

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Paul was pulling the boy and the inflatable unicorn against the tide and elements and had only one arm available to swim. But he was determined to get him back to shore… before the arrival of the coastguards.

Making it to safety

“There was no way I was getting dragged onto the lifeboats with a unicorn!” Paul added.

“But we made it back and it was worthwhile as the boy’s whole family were there and were overwhelmed to have him back. The reaction of the family was something that will stay with me the rest of my life. I swim most days at the Portal or Harvies but that’s my first-ever open water swim. Not a bad way to start.”

Word got out about Paul’s heroics and he soon appeared in local and national newspapers, before an appearance on BBC Radio Scotland.

His colleagues in Environmental Health couldn’t be prouder but are quick to bring him back down to earth.

He added: “I’m a coach at North Ayrshire Athletics Club and it all started when they put something on their Facebook Page. It all snowballed from there really and I’ve had journalists approaching me. My work colleagues have heard the story a few times and say that the swim gets longer and longer each time I recall it!”

Do you have a story about a real-life hero or shining star? If so, recognise your colleagues by letting us know at:

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