AN HEROIC rower who rescued a disabled woman from the roof of her car after she accidentally drove into the River Avon in Stratford has been presented with an award.
Paul Beardmore, a member of Stratford Boat Club, received a bravery award from The Royal Humane Society for saving one of the club’s adaptive athletes from her submerged car in November last year.
Gina Dawson was attempting to manouevre her Mitsubishi out of the parking area near Stratford Boat Club on Tuesday November 8 when she ended up accidentally reversing her car into the river at speed.
The 51-year-old, who is a member of Stratford Adaptive Rowing Club, suffers from MS and cannot walk very well.
She told the Observer at the time that she had been rowing a couple of laps – something she likes to do to manage her mobility – and her legs were tired.
She explained she should have had a rest and a coffee but instead she attempted to drive home.
Her legs had felt heavy on the accelerator and she felt the car clip the edge of the tarmac on the water’s edge. In her panic she slammed her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake and she ended up reversing into the water.
Several members of the boat club witnessed Gina’s car plunge into the river but initially she called to them to stay where they were and not attempt to come and get her.
She climbed out of the car window and on to the car’s roof.
It was Paul who ended up jumping into the river and swimming out to save Gina as the vehicle began to sink under the water.
Gina said back in November: “Paul from the rowing club came out to get me. I like wild swimming but not necessarily with my car.
She stoically added: “You have to laugh about it. It will become one of those do you remember the time when I drove into the river moments.”
Police and firefighters were called to the scene and all that remained to suggest the completely submerged car had ever been in the water was a buoy, attached to the car before it sunk, and the tip of the car aerial – until it was winched out of the river later in the day.
Paul Beardmore was presented with his award by Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s president acting on behalf of HRH Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy who is President of the Royal Humane Society.
Paul Stanton said: “Stratford Boat Club is immensely proud of Paul Beardmore and his selfless act of bravery and quick action which undoubtedly saved the life of a fellow member of the adaptive squad. Paul Beardmore is a self-effacing modest person but the club could not let the presentation pass without honouring Paul.
“It was especially pleasing that not only fellow members of the adaptive squad were present but also many members of Stratford’s junior squad who had just concluded their four day Easter Junior Sculling Camp.”