A nine-year-old girl from Saddleworth is being hailed as a hero by her friends and family after jumping into an ice cold canal to save a young boy from drowning.
Caoimhe Preshur, from Greenfield, was on a canal boating holiday with her family and friends when the incident happened as they passed through Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
The 10-year-old boy, a friend who was on holiday with the family, and who wishes to be identified only as Thomas, was walking along the deck of the narrow boat when he suddenly slipped and fell into the ice cold water.
Caoimhe was alerted by Thomas’s screams for help and without hesitation or regard for her own safety she jumped into the cold murky water and swam across to help him, she managed grab him and hold his head above the water until family members arrived to assist. Together they managed to grab the pair and haul them back on to the boat’s deck.
Speaking exclusively to Saddleworth News, Caoimhe, who attends Greenfield Primary School said: “I heard a scream and ignored it at first as there were children playing nearby, but when I heard a second scream I realised somebody was in trouble, so I ran over to the side of the boat and saw Thomas bobbing around in the water screaming he was going to die. I put my hand out but he wouldn’t grab it – he was panicking too much – so I jumped in and just kept him afloat.
“I’m quite a good swimmer as I go swimming twice a week so I wasn’t too worried about the cold water, all I remember is me and him grabbing the boat to try and keep ourselves above the water. I was really just concentrating on stopping him from drowning.”
Caoimhe’s mum, Abi Bown, said: “I ran across after I heard screams and saw them both in the water but I couldn’t get them out, I literally had to tow them to the front of the narrow boat which allowed us to pull them back up to the deck. We dried them both off and gave them a hot chocolate to drink.”
Family and friends praised Caoimhe saying she was “very brave” and had taken the rescue in her stride, and they were all very proud of her.
Mike Wood, headmaster of Greenfield Primary School told Saddleworth News: “Caoimhe hadn’t told anyone at school about what she had done and the first we heard about it was when Saddleworth News rang, we are very proud of her and she obviously used common sense during the rescue, with no one around to help she jumped in with no thought for her own safety.
“She must have been confident in her ability before she went in to keep Thomas afloat, we are all just so proud of her doing that in an icy cold canal it’s remarkable. We have talked to the children this morning in assembly about what she did and she should be given some recognition for this, she’s a lovely little girl.”
Thomas later told Caoimhe she had “saved his life” and he was very grateful to her. He now hopes they will meet up again if and when the family have another holiday together.