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Award for hero who rescued East Lancashire yachtswoman
A HERO who risked his life in raging seas to rescue a East Lancashire yachtswoman has been honoured at Buckingham Palace.
Norma Probert and her husband Clive were sailing off the coast of Levkas in Greece when a huge storm caused their catamaran to overturn.
GP Clive was thrown clear but Norma, a non-swimmer, was trapped amid the debris in the up-turned hull.
But Irishman Ruairi Bradley, who runs a restaurant and yacht repair business at Vlikho Harbour, where the drama unfolded in September last year, dived into the churning waters, negotiated his way under the stricken catamaran, through broken rigging and other debris and into the cabin where Norma was trapped, before leading her to safety.
One French tourist lost his life in the storm, which saw several craft overturned in the harbour’s freak conditions, with winds topping 100 knots.
Ruairi, 39, attended a ceremony at the palace, where he was presented with one of the UK’s highest civilian bravery honours, a Royal Humane Society bronze medal, by the society’s president, Princess Alexandra.
Burnley-born Norma, who now lives in Whalley New Road, Blackburn, planted a big kiss of thanks on Ruairi’s cheek after the presentation.
She said: “It was terrifying, I thought I was going to die.
“If it hadn’t been for Ruairi’s bravery I think there is little doubt that I would have drowned or suffocated, I would not have been here today.
“I owe my life to Ruairi. He was a hero.”
After receiving his medal, Ruairi, who is originally from Rostrevor, Northern Ireland said : “I knew of course that there was danger but someone was trapped down there and had to be rescued.
“And when I’d got Norma out and back to dry land I had to go back on the water to cope with the chaos that had been left by the storm.
“I was there at least another four hours working to try and clear debris and salvage what could be salvaged of the wrecked yachts. It was not really until I’d finished that what had happened struck me.”
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