A PADSTOW publican is to be awarded one of the country's top lifesaving honours for rescuing a drowning sailor earlier this year.
Ollie Smallwood, who runs the Shipwrights Inn, will receive a Royal Humane Society testimonial on vellum, personally approved and signed by Princess Alexandra, the president of the society.
Three other Padstow residents – Tamsyn Smith, Alan Tarby and Sally Howell – are all to receive resuscitation certificates from the society for their roles in the life and death battle to save a crewman of a fishing boat who had fallen into the harbour.
The four also won the personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, the society's secretary, as he announced the awards at the society's London headquarters.
"They were all, to put it simply, the right people in the right place at the right time," he said.
"But for their swift action, the man in the harbour would almost certainly be dead today."
The incident happened on the evening of March 26 this year at the inner harbour.
A crewman was returning to his fishing vessel and fell into the water between the boat and quayside.
A woman called for help and her boyfriend climbed down between the boat and the quay, stood on a wall bracket and lifted the unconscious man's head from the water.
Other passers-by were not responding to the woman's cries for help but Mr Smallwood heard her from his nearby flat. He went to the scene and realised the only way to get the man out would be via the steps.
"He removed his outer clothing and had to swim right round both vessels, dragging the unconscious man with him – a distance of about 65 metres."
He was assisted by some passers-by to get the man from the water and onto the ground at the top of the steps.
The man showed no signs of life, but Tamsyn Smith, who works at the Shipwrights, took over. She recalled: "I tried to get as much water as possible out of his mouth and I just kept talking to him and tried to get his wet clothes off. I spent about five minutes with him until the first responders arrived."
The responders, Alan Tarby and Sally Howells, worked together to keep the man alive.
Modest Mr Smallwood said he was used to getting wet through surfing, and wished he had his wetsuit on that night.
"He wasn't a small chap and I didn't want to get squashed between the boat and the wall with him, so decided I'd have to bring him right around the two boats and up to the steps. It's just something that you do I suppose, I didn't really think about it.
"It came as a surprise when I was told I was getting an award, it's the first time I've received an award for anything."