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Pupils praised over river rescue

A team of "selfless" school pupils relinquished their chances of finishing the Ten Tors Challenge to rescue a girl from a swollen river and guide dozens of other competitors to safety.

The six 15-year-olds, from Bedminster Down School in Bristol, set off in gale force winds and torrential rain on Saturday to trek 35 miles across Dartmoor in Devon.

They were among more than 2,400 teenagers who took part in the annual two-day challenge, which must be completed without adult guidance.

On the first day, after setting off from Okehampton in Devon at 7am, the Bedminster Down team decided to find a safer place to cross a swollen river.

As they waited to cross the waist-high water, the pupils - led by pupil Matt Hunt, 15 - spotted a girl from another team who had lost her footing and was being carried off downstream.

Max Alford, 15, another member of the Bedminster Down team, quickly used his throw line to pull the stricken girl to safety. An air ambulance arrived to treat the girl, who has now recovered from her ordeal. The pupils then used their throw line to fashion a guide rope across the river and helped more than 100 Ten Tors challengers to safely cross.

But the three-and-a-half hours spent assisting others meant they were unable to complete the route themselves, only managing to reach eight of the 10 Tors by the end of the challenge at 5pm on Sunday.

The team - Matt Hunt, Max Alford, Monique Ben-Carew, Charlie Bright, Alice Baker and Harry Roddick - were awarded their medals regardless in a special ceremony after it was noted that the "selflessness of the team demonstrated the true spirit of the Ten Tors".

Steve Christie, business manager for Bedminster Down School, said: "On hearing of their exploits, Brigadier Piers Hankinson, responsible for the Ten Tors Challenge, took the highly unusual step of awarding the students with their medals even though they didn't complete the challenge. In a special presentation ceremony it was noted that 'selflessness of the team demonstrated the true spirit of the Ten Tors'. Well done Matt Hunt, Max Alford, Monique Ben-Carew, Charlie Bright, Alice Baker and Harry Roddick, we are all very proud of you."

Gary Schlick, headmaster of the school, told the BBC: "I think it's how you hope the students would behave if they were in that sort of situation."

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