Hero grandad hailed after saving drowning canoeist

Brian Ball was out in his boat when he received a call from the coastguard to help. Picture: Alexander Lawrie
Brian Ball was out in his boat when he received a call from the coastguard to help. Picture: Alexander Lawrie
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A GRANDAD has been hailed a hero after he pulled a drowning canoeist from the freezing North Sea.

Brian Ball was out in his boat, Dignity, off the coast of Dunbar when he received a call from the coastguard alerting him that a canoeist was in trouble.

Quick-thinking Mr Ball, a grandfather-of-two, immediately jumped into action and sped off looking for the stricken victim.

Mr Ball spotted the man, who is yet to be identified, struggling to stay afloat in the choppy waters and pulled him to safety.

The semi-conscious man was then winched on to a coastguard rescue helicopter before being rushed to Borders General Hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia.

It is understood the man was in the water for half an hour and only stayed alive because he was wearing the correct safety gear.

Police have praised Mr Ball’s heroic actions and have put him forward for bravery award.

However, the retiring rescuer – who hails from Mayfield – said he was just doing his bit.

He said: “I was out fishing near to Dunbar when I got a call from the coastguard saying a kayaker was in some trouble, and asking me to help out as I was the closest vessel in the area.

“The local RNLI were out on another job at the time and I was more than happy to help out as that’s what we seamen do.

“I managed to get to him quickly, but he had been in the water for around 30 minutes and was in quite a bad way. He was obviously cold and soaking wet, but he was drifting in and out of consciousness.

“I gave him my jumper and coat and tried to keep him talking as I made my way back to shore. I also kept checking his pulse to make sure he was still with us.

“But then the coastguard called to say a Royal Navy 
helicopter would be coming out to meet me and take him to hospital.

“I’m not too sure about being called a hero, I only did what anyone else would do. I would hope someone would help me out if I got into difficulties in the water.”

Mr Ball, 58, added: “He was wearing a life preserver and all I would say if people are going out on the water then they should wear a lifebelt. It will save your life one day.”

Now police officers have praised Mr Ball’s response to the emergency and hope to have him honoured officially in the coming months.

Police Scotland Sergeant Stuart Higginbottom said Mr Ball helped avert a tragedy.

He said: “Brian’s actions are commendable and we are delighted to nominate him for a meritorious award.”

The rescue took place on Sunday morning.