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Ballycastle woman Aine Paterson who rescued swimmer recognised with bravery award


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Andrew Chapman

Andrew Chapman

Andrew Chapman

A Ballycastle woman who put her life on the line in a bid to drag two swimmers from the sea after they were overwhelmed by rip tides and high waves has been recognised with a top award.

Aine Paterson was walking her dog on Ballycastle beach when the incident happened last December.

Thanks to Aine's brave actions one of the women was saved - however, tragically mother-of-two Deirdre McShane (58) passed away at the scene.

Aine has been awarded a top national bravery honour, a Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Parchment.

And she has been personally praised by Andrew Chapman, secretary of the society, as "a true heroine."

As he announced the award Mr Chapman said: "The two women who were experienced swimmers had been overwhelmed by the seas that were running that day.

"Despite the fact she could also have been overwhelmed and swept away Aine, with no thought for her own safety, went into the treacherous seas not once but twice to pull them out.

"Sadly one of them did not survive but the other did and she owes her life to Aine. What Aine did that day was a completely selfless act of bravery. She was a true heroine and richly deserves the award."

The incident happened at around 8.30am on the morning of December 19 last year.

The two women were part of an early morning cold water swimming group. It was bitterly cold and they were overwhelmed by the high waves, rip tide and strong winds.

Aine spotted them as she walked her dog along the beach, realised they were in trouble, then called the emergency services and immediately went into the water and managed to drag them out and on to the beach.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph at the time she said she had been walking on the beach when she saw what she initially thought was driftwood or a seal being washed into the shore.

She added: "Then I saw movement and I realised it was a person who was in difficulties.

"The adrenalin kicked in and I dropped the dog lead and ran into the sea after ringing 999.

"The woman was still just about conscious and I dragged her out of the water.

"She kept passing out, she was trying to talk but she couldn't because she had swallowed a lot of water.

"I now know she was trying to tell me the name of her friend and that she was still in the sea.

"I'd thought the woman I rescued was the only one in the water but then I saw a body being washed in.

"I knew the lady was dead but I also knew I had to get her out of the water before she was pulled back out by the current. The sea was so dangerous that I feared it could have taken me as well.

"The undercurrent was nearly pulling me off my feet.

"The conditions were absolutely horrendous."

Since it was set up the Royal Humane Society has considered over 87,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards. It is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.

It was one of a select number of organisations to receive a donation from the Patron's fund which was set up to acknowledge work done by organisations of which the Queen is the patron, to mark her 90th birthday.

Belfast Telegraph