Rescued surfer Matthew Bryce had 'made peace' with death
I was ready to go, then the chopper saw me, he says
A surfer rescued after more than 30 hours at sea had "made peace" with his death moments before he was spotted and saved by a helicopter.
Recovering from hypothermia in a hospital bed in Belfast, Matthew Bryce vowed he would never surf again.
The 22-year-old from North Lanarkshire, Scotland, was reported missing by family after he failed to return from a Sunday morning surf off the Argyll coast.
He was eventually found by a search and rescue helicopter at around 7.30pm on Monday, drifting in the North Channel 13 miles from Northern Ireland and 16 from Scotland.
Speaking from his hospital bed, his voice still hoarse from screaming for help, the surfer recalled his remarkable story of survival and how a routine surfing trip turned into a nightmare after an off-shore wind swept him out to sea.
"I was thinking I was going to die - I was almost convinced," Matthew said. "I didn't think I would see sunrise. I watching the sunset and had pretty much made peace with it all when I heard a helicopter.
"The helicopter flew right over me and I heard it,so I jumped off my board and I picked up my board and I started waving it. They flew over (again) and I thought they had missed me, but then they turned around. When I saw them turn, it was indescribable. They saved my life. I can't thank them enough."
Matthew was taken to Ulster Hospital, where he is said to be recovering well.
While his dad, John, had tried not to give up hope, he had started discussing the process of who would go to identify his son's body if it was found.
Describing the moment his phone rang, John said: "I walked outside the caravan because I think it's the worst news possible. It was the police inspector and all he said was, 'He was found alive'.
"I was outside crying my eyes out and obviously (my wife) Isabella and my son thought we'd received the worst possible news. So I had to run in and tell them 'He's alive, he's talking to the coastguard'."
Matthew added: "I want to thank staff here in Ward 15 at the Ulster Hospital who, together with the rescue services, saved my life. They are all heroes."