County Durham schoolboy rescues drowning boy

A County Durham school pupil has been hailed a hero after rescuing a boy from drowning while on holiday.

Blake Stephenson, nine, spotted the lifeless body of a boy at the bottom of a swimming pool while on holiday and dived down to bring him up to the surface for help.

Blake, who attends Kirk Merrington Primary School, said: “I saw he was lying on the bottom so I prodded him with my foot to check he wasn’t just seeing how long he could stay down there, but he didn’t move.

“I knew I had to help him so I dived down to the bottom and pulled him back up to the top with me.”

Blake managed to drag the young French boy to the side of the pool and get help from nearby adults, including his mum, who worked with another member of the public to perform CPR until emergency services arrived.

The young boy was placed in a medically induced coma for several days, but tests have now shown that he will make a full recovery, thanks to the quick thinking of the County Durham nine-year-old.

Blake’s dad David said: “We’re all immensely proud of Blake and what he did for this young boy on holiday. He’s a strong boy for his age and a good swimmer and I think his confidence in the water that he’s built up during his swimming lessons was a real help in this situation.”

Pupils attending national curriculum swimming lessons in County Durham schools learn about the dangers of being in and around water, rescue, self-rescue and ways of summoning help using a range of water – based situations.

They also take part in water safety and drowning prevention activities, lessons and assemblies as part of the Royal Lifesaving Society UK’s National Drowning Prevention Week and Durham County Council’s “Dying to be Cool Campaign”, to highlight the dangers of water, drowning and cold water shock and the importance of staying safe in and around water and learning to swim.

Blake’s headteacher, Nicola Murray, said: “Just weeks before this holiday, Blake had been doing life-saving skills as part of his school swimming lessons. Ironically, he never actually qualified for his certificate, but he’d obviously remembered those vital skills and was able to put them into practice, which just goes to show how important it is that we teach our children these kind of skills so that they can keep themselves safe around the water and also help others if they get into difficulties. We’re all very proud of Blake here at Kirk Merrington Primary School.”

Blake added: “This wasn’t what I expected to be doing on holiday and all the attention is quite embarrassing but I think I should get my life-saving certificate now because not everyone comes back from holiday and has saved someone’s life!”

Kenny MacDermid, national drowning prevention coordinator from the Royal Life Saving Society UK said: “We would like to take this opportunity to say well done to Blake, who has shown true bravery and composure at such a young age. It highlights the importance of learning vital lifesaving skills, including learning about the water, how to stay safe in the water and how to act in an emergency. We would urge everybody to go to www.rlss.org.uk  for basic water safety advice at home and abroad.”

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