A man who waded in to Rutland Water to help a child who had gone in after a football has urged others to take care near open water.
Fred Pawlett, from Bourne, was enjoying a day at the reservoir with his family recently when his son Jacob, nine, raised the alarm. A child had entered the water near the Harbour Cafe at Whitwell.
Fred said: “We were having a picnic with our boys. These other two younger lads were playing football nearby when their ball ran off into the water.
“My youngest saw one of them going in to get the ball and he shouted to me. When I got there one of the boys was quite a way out. He’d got hold of the ball but the current was pulling him. He must have been 10 metres out – another few seconds and he would have gone under.
“His head went under and that’s when I knew I had to go in so I waded out to him and pulled him out. I could still stand up but it was too deep for him. You could feel the current in the water pulling you across.”
This week is Water Safety Week and Anglian Water is joining forces with the region’s fire and rescue teams to get the message across that swimming in open water could cost you your life. It is illegal to swim in Rutland Water, or any operational reservoir, unless there is a designated area or event with lifeguards.
Fred added: “I think the message for youngsters playing near the water is - is it worth your life to go in?
“My boys go fishing with their granddad and we go surfing so they understand the dangers, but I just want others to understand them as well. It was all down to my boy raising the alert, he did exactly the right thing and I’m very proud of him.”
Will Kirstein, Rutland Water Park manager, said: “Well done to Fred and his son. They thought fast and averted a potential tragedy here.
“We don’t encourage visitors to go in the water, other than at permitted areas or controlled events, but in this case it was an emergency, and for Fred the water was shallow.
“Rutland Water is an operational site, there are hidden dangers, machinery, and strong currents below the surface, and the water is extremely cold, even in summer. We do our best to get the safety message across to visitors, and that’s why we want to remind parents to teach their children about the dangers of open water as early as possible.”
He urged people to enjoy the water in a safe way.
Will added: “If you want to go into the water then please visit our watersports centre to find out about all the activities on offer including windsurfing and paddle boarding – all carried out in carefully controlled conditions with trained staff nearby.”
Rutland Water’s beach at Sykes Lane will also open to visitors in July and will be manned by trained, experienced lifeguards.