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"Unsung hero" swimmer awarded for freezing sea rescue

Friday 29 November 2019

"Unsung hero" swimmer awarded for freezing sea rescue

An "unsung hero" swimmer in his 70s has been recognised with a prestigious award for jumping into the freezing sea to rescue a woman struggling with hypothermia earlier this year.

Frank Laine was recently awarded a Silver Jersey Humane Society medal at Government House.

He was the first person to receive it from the charity, which aims to recognise “individual acts of gallantry, courage and self-sacrifice in saving or attempting to save life”, since 1996.

According to his daughter, film producer Catherine Laine, the 76-year-old swimmer has made it a habit to take to the sea every day. She said he never wears a wetsuit whatever the time of year, and always goes swimming in his trunks.


Pictured: The rescue took place in St. Brelade's Bay in February.

But in February this year, Mr Laine’s daily swim took an unexpected turn when he heard someone screaming from the sea whilst down at St. Brelade’s Bay.

The woman, an experienced swimmer, was suffering from the effects of hypothermia.

After seeing she was in difficulty 100 metres south of the wayside slipway, Mr Laine went “powering out” into the sea. Lorna Anderson saw him run out into the water and also jumped in fully clothed to help him. 

“It is the final scream that I heard which I remember the most,” Mr Laine said. “It was like nothing I had ever heard before! It was almost beastly or animal-like and that's what made me jump in the water and what I remember the most of that day.”


Pictured: Mr Laine received his Silver Jersey Humane Society medal at Government House last month. 

The pair managed to help the woman back onto the beach where rescue services were waiting for her. The woman was taken to hospital where she spent three days in intensive care.

The first responders tried to wrap Mr Laine up in a heating jacket, but his daughter said he refused the offer, saying he was "fine" and didn’t feel the cold after so many swims in the sea.

He admitted he felt exhausted after the rescue, but was mainly pleased that he and his rescuing companion had achieved what they had set out to do.

Word of the rescue got around, and last month Mr Laine was handed a Silver medal from the Jersey Human Society by the Lieutenant Governor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, along with Ms Anderson.


Pictured: “As a family we are proud that dad is finally getting it, it’s been a long time coming,” Catherine Laine (pictured right) said. 

When he was told he would be receiving the medal, Mr Laine’s first reaction was to jokingly ask: “What do I need to do to get a gold one?”

Ms Laine said she, along with the rest of the family, was proud to see Mr Laine recognised.

“That he is saving someone at 76 is quite incredible,” she said. “I am really proud, we are very proud. We are all really chuffed.

“My dad does a lot of charitable work, he set up the Silkworth charity group. I always describe him as an unsung hero - never puts himself in the spotlight, that’s not why he does it. He does not do it for the recognition.”

“As a family we are proud that is finally getting it. It’s been a long time coming,” Ms Laine added. 


Pictured: Mr Laine donated the voucher he received as a thank you for the rescue to be raffled off by Silkworth.

Since the rescue, Mr Laine has been able to speak with the woman he helped. As a thank you for "dragging me out of the big blue”, she gave him a £50 massage voucher.

But instead of using it, in another show of selflessness, Mr Laine donated it to Silkworth so that it can be raffled off as part of the 25th Silkworth Ball in March 2020.

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