Margaret Bell with her grandson, Finn Ryan-Bell ,at the Irish Water Safety awards ceremony in Dublin Castle
THE heroic actions of a young schoolboy who saved a toddler from drowning while on a family holiday in Portugal over the summer have been honoured by Irish Water Safety.
Nine-year-old Finn Bell-Ryan from Patrickswell was one of 28 people from across the country whose life-saving actions were acknowledged at a ceremony in Dublin Castle this Wednesday evening.
According to Irish Water Safety, Finn – a third class pupil at Crecora National School – displayed “alertness, initiative and quick thinking” during an incident in the popular resort of Cascais, near Lisbon on August 12, last.
Finn, who has been swimming since he was one year old, was playing around the pool at the complex where he was staying with his family when he was alerted to a three-year-old boy who had gotten into difficulty after jumping into the water.
The then eight-year-old immediately reacted and quickly entered the water and pulled the toddler from the bottom of the pool before adults who were in the area provided assistance.
"We were in the little pool playing and I wanted to have the laugh and jump in the big pool and I did and was swimming around when a little boy jumped in and I thought he could swim but he couldn't," explained Finn who says he was alerted with a girl who was shouting that the toddler could not swim.
"I got to him and I caught him and I brought him over to the steps," added Finn.
His mum Claire Bell says the whole incident happened very quickly.
“I was at the side of the pool lying down and by the time I stood up he (Finn) was already on the way over,” she added.
The toddler who was not physically injured was reunited with his mother as soon as he was taken from the water.
By coincidence, Finn’s grandmother - Margaret Bell - was also honoured by Irish Water Safety on Wednesday in recognition of her 40 years’ service as a volunteer with the organisation.
"I'm very involved in Limerick city water safety so I would have promoted it with my old children and with Finn - Limerick city water safety is a voluntary organisation and we teach people how to save lives and we teach them the skills to save a life both inside the water and outside of the water," said Margaret who is originally from Rathkeale.
“We are a swimming family, it’s in our DNA and it’s great to be recognised,” Claire told the Limerick Leader.
Seán Canney, Minister of State at the Department of Rural & Community Development presented “Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award” to each of the rescuers in appreciation for saving so many lives.
“It is an honour to pay tribute to these courageous recipients. Tragically an average of 127 people drown in Ireland every year and although that’s 127 too many, the figure would be even higher but for the dramatic efforts of these individuals who saved others from drowning and the ongoing work of Irish Water Safety volunteers teaching swimming and water rescue skills,” he said.
Long-Service Volunteer Awards were presented to 63 volunteers, recognising a combined total of 1,315 years of service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide.