Broads Authority quay worker receives hero award
PUBLISHED: 07:15 21 November 2017
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
A Broads Authority quay assistant who saved a four year old girl from drowning after she fell into the water between a boat and the quayside at the Great Yarmouth Yacht Station has won an award for his actions.
Gary Cotton, 58, plunged into the cold water after the young girl moments after she fell over the edge of the quay in August.
He managed to grab hold of her before the current swept her away.
Mr Cotton, who received a National Park Hero Award, said: “It is nice to get the award, but I’m not one for publicity really.
“I did it because if I didn’t go in she wouldn’t be here right now.”
Mr Cotton said he had just finished helping a hire cruiser moor at the station when he heard the young girl’s mother shout ‘she’s going in’.”
The Lowestoft resident said he saw the young girl fall over the edge “in a blur”.
“She was about 10 metres away when she went over and we all rushed over to the side.”
He said the tide was coming in and he first pushed the boat aside to see better.
“I was hoping for a reach rescue where I could grab her but she was out of reach. I could just make out her blonde hair in the murky water as she sank.”
Realising the tide was coming in, Mr Cotton jumped to the side of the girl so she would be pushed towards him.
“I was wearing a lifejacket and knew that I had between three to five seconds before it inflated so I had to grab her in that time otherwise I would not have been able to dive down after her.”
As he went under water, he swept his arms outwards.
“I couldn’t see her but I could feel her and I grabbed on to her. I pushed her upwards and my lifejacket went off. People standing on the side pushed the boat away and the girl’s older brother reached down and grabbed her by the hair and pulled her out.”
Broads Authority chair Jacquie Burgess will present the award to Mr Cotton on Friday.
She said: “I am absolutely thrilled for Gary that his quick thinking, bravery and dedication have been recognised and honoured by this award.
“There is absolutely no doubt that he prevented an accident becoming a tragedy as she was not wearing a life jacket.
“I speak for all of Gary’s colleagues and my fellow Members of the Broads Authority when I say how proud we are of him.”