Anglers rescue pair from drowning in Linlithgow Loch

A quick-thinking taxi driver who missed the first half of the England vs Sweden match after pulling a drowning mum-of-three out of Linlithgow Loch has denied that he's a hero and admitted the rescue saved him £50.

Robert Ewing had plans to place a hefty bet on the showdown quarter-final on Saturday but missed his chance after carrying out the dramatic rescue with friend and fellow fisherman Ian Dobbie.

After spending a morning angling on the loch, Robert, from Carrick Knowe, noticed a couple with three children wading in the loch near where he docked his rowing boat at around 2pm. He shouted a warning that they shouldn’t be swimming because of poisonous algae and dangerous weeds in the shallows.

He told the Evening News: “They sounded like they had been drinking. They told me that there was nothing wrong with the water and by the time I had put my stuff away they were swimming right out.”

Soon Robert and Ian, 56, noticed that the man was holding on to an orange buoy and the woman, who was about 30 yards away from him was struggling in the water and “screaming for help”.

They grabbed a boat, with Robert on the oars and Ian at the tiller.

Robert said: “Ian said to me: ‘you’d better get a move on, she’s going under’. We only had a minute or two to make it.

“Luckily we got there in time. Ian missed her with the first grab, her head had gone under so I grabbed her hand and dragged her in the boat.

Robert Ewing a taxi driver who rescued a drowning woman in Linlithgow Loch

“Put it this way, if it had been another few minutes I think we would have been sending the divers in to get her.”

The woman was semi-conscious when she was brought into the tiny boat and her partner was told to hang on to the stern while they were towed in to shore where a crowd had gathered. Robert said: “She was crying and she said to me: ‘thanks to you my children have still got a mum tonight’.”

Meanwhile, the three children with the couple – a boy and two girls who looked to be around five, seven and 12 years old – were watching the scene unfold. Robert said: “The kids were on the side of the bank crying. The boy was going to go in and help her but my friend told him to stay there.

Ian, fisheries manager and duty boatman on the day, said: “We made a snap decision and got to her as quickly as we could row the boat.

“I was really angry because Robert had already warned them. I told her I thought she was irresponsible. I’m not sure I can repeat what I said!

“They put themselves, their children and us at risk. We saved her life.”

Robert added: “I’m not a hero. You know when people are in trouble and you have to help them. You can’t let people drown.

“I missed the first half of the match and I would have liked to have seen it but I was going to put £50 on Sweden to win so I’m happy about that.”