Council worker praised for aiding sea rescue

An RNLI lifeboat in action
An RNLI lifeboat in action

A young man has been rescued from the sea off the coast of Co Down.

Council worker Mark Pollock was working at a car park at Ballyholme, near Bangor, Co Down, at about 8am today when he heard faint shouts and continued to look out until he spotted the man offshore.

The local volunteer RNLI crew launched its inshore craft from the base at Bangor Marina and rescued the man, barely conscious, about 200m from the shore.

The RNLI said: “Hearing faint shouts, he initially thought it was someone calling for their dog, but persevered looking in the sea until he became aware that there was someone in the water.

“Without his quick thinking in calling HM Coastguard, this morning’s call would have had a very different outcome.”

The man is believed to have been in his twenties and was lightly dressed in only tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and socks.

The RNLI said it is not clear how he ended up in the water.

Helmsman James Gillespie said: “On arrival, the early morning light made it difficult to see, but fortunately the water was flat, calm, and on scanning the area I saw a slight movement as the casualty raised his hand.”

One of the RNLI crew, Johnny Gedge, got into the water to support the man until he could be lifted on board.

The rescued man was made safe and prevented from becoming any colder on the boat before being brought to the lifeboat station at the marina, where paramedics took care of him.

Mr Pollock said: “I am just delighted that I heard his calls, and hope he makes a full recovery.”

Bangor lifeboat’s operations manager Kevin Byers said: “I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent.

“Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.”

Alan Chambers, Ulster Unionist MLA for North Down, said: “Mark, once he realised that it was a person in distress calling for help, did the correct thing in immediately alerting the coastguards.

“Given the extremely low early morning air and water temperature, any delay could have turned the operation into a recovery situation rather than a rescue.

“We are very privileged and grateful to have an RNLI rescue craft based in Bangor and once again it has proved its worth in saving a life.

“Both Mark and the crew are to be commended for their actions in dealing with a situation that could easily have ended in a tragedy rather than a rescue.”

The previous day, a man had to be rescued at Ardglass.