A Co Down teenager who saved a fisherman from drowning is preparing to head to Downing Street to receive the personal congratulations of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Michael Howard (19) from Ballywalter has been named a National Life Saver in the annual Vodafone Lifesavers Awards in recognition of his brave actions in diving into the waters off the Ards peninsula to save fisherman Alun Hammond.
Now he is to visit 10 Downing Street on December 13 to meet the Prime Minister, along with his fellow National Life Savers.
The Awards were launched in April to honour the unsung heroes behind Britain's most remarkable lifesaving rescues.
Nick Read, Vodafone UK chief executive officer, who will join the ceremony at Downing Street, said: "The entries this year were truly inspiring and selecting just 10 National Life Savers from so many deserving stories was an extremely tough task.
"However, what makes this story even more incredible is that Michael Howard is a member of the public who inadvertently found himself in an extraordinary situation - and had to make a split-second decision that made the difference between life and death.
"His brave actions were instrumental in saving Alun Hammond's life that day and Vodafone is delighted to have the opportunity of honouring him in these national Awards."
Alun Hammond was fishing from a cliff face at Orlock late one evening when he lost his footing and fell. He had been perched above a sheer drop of 20 to 25 feet down to jagged rocks and the sea. As he fell he hit his head and lost consciousness.
Michael Howard, who was nearby with a group of friends, saw Alun fall and leapt 15 feet down into the pitch black sea, swimming to the injured man and pulling him back towards the rocks. As he swam he compressed Alun's chest twice, expelling large quantities of sea water.
Alun was foaming at the mouth and taking shallow breaths, and the three friends held him up in the water off inaccessible rocks for a quarter of an hour until the lifeboat arrived. The crew were then able to get the seriously injured man on board and transfer him to hospital where he spent a number of days in intensive care. Thanks to Michael's bravery, Alun Hammond went on to make a full recovery.
Nominating Michael for an award, Det Const Dawson from North Down District Command Unit, PSNI, said he had shown great courage in his actions, was calm in his approach and clear headed in his thinking, which allowed him to use the skills he possessed to keep the injured man alive.