Top honour for coastguard officer after he leapt into freezing waters to rescue suicidal woman

Dorset Echo: HEROICS: Stephen George HEROICS: Stephen George

A COASTGUARD officer who leapt into freezing waters to rescue a suicidal woman is to be given a top bravery award.

Stephen George, who had just finished a shift at the coastguard control room, dived into Weymouth Harbour fully clothed to save a young woman who wanted to end her life.

The Royal Humane Society, which is giving Mr George an award, said without his intervention the woman would have succeeded.

Mr George is more used to helping to co-ordinate rescues in his role at Portland Coastguard rather than participating in them.

The Dorset Echo reported last November how Mr George and colleagues Nigel Robson and Emily Clifton were walking to their cars after finishing work when they saw a figure drop into the water near the Pavilion.

Mr George jumped in ‘without hesitation’ and managed to bring the woman to safety while his colleagues raised the alarm. The woman was cold and upset but otherwise unharmed.

Mr George, 42, undertook sea survival training when he worked on boats supporting offshore oil rigs in the North Sea. He also served in the Army before becoming a coastguard officer.

Speaking at the time of the incident, watch manager Mr Robson described Mr George as a ‘hero.’ He said: “Steve dashed across the road and went in after her. We didn’t discuss it, he just legged it so we alerted the ops room.

“Steve managed to get hold of the girl and brought her to the ferry steps. We met them at the bottom, walking down at a gingerly pace. It was very dark. We were cold just watching them so it must have been freezing for them.”

Announcing the award at the Royal Humane Society’s headquarters, Society secretary Dick Wilkinson said: “This woman had drunk a quantity of alcohol, could not swim and had intended to take her own life.

“She would have succeeded, were it not for his vigilance, courage and determination of Mr George to save her life.

“He heroically dived into biting cold water in the dark, and richly deserves the Testimonial on Parchment he has been awarded. Put simply he was the right person in the right place at the right time.”

No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the award, made following a recommendation from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

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