Axminster man’s bravery award

08:20 30 July 2014

Axminster man Charles May who saved two pensioners from drowning. Photo by Chris Carson

Axminster man Charles May who saved two pensioners from drowning. Photo by Chris Carson

Archant

Musician risked his life to save an elderly couple trapped in their car by raging flood water

The pensioners' car trapped in floodwaterThe pensioners' car trapped in floodwater

An Axminster man who risked his life to save an elderly couple trapped in their car by raging floodwater has been awarded one of the country’s top bravery honours.

Charles May, aged 45, of Greendown House, Greendown, is to receive a Royal Humane Society testimonial on vellum personally signed and approved by its president Princess Alexandra.

The horror incident in which Mr May stood waist deep in swirling flood waters holding on to the couple’s car to save it from being swept away with them inside happened in a lane near Langport, on the Somerset Levels, during January’s devastating floods.

This week, in addition to the award he is to receive, Mr May also won the personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, secretary of the Royal Humane Society.

He said: “Put simply, Mr May was the right person in the right place at the right time. He put his own life on the line to save this couple. Things could so easily have gone wrong and he and the couple could have been drowned.”

Mr Wilkinson said that the rain on the bitterly cold day was “horizontal.”

The car carrying Anthony Fleet, 84, and his wife Patricia, 82, of East Chinnock, Yeovil, had passed Mr May earlier when it turned down a country lane.

It finished up entering an 18 inch deep puddle which made the engine cut out.

Mr Wilkinson continued: “By then they were 75 yards from dry land. Earlier when they passed Mr May he was concerned for their safety and decided to wait to see if they came back up the lane.

“When they did not he reversed his own vehicle back to check they were alright and saw their car which had been moved by the wind and the strong flow of the water and was floating with the rear end uppermost and drifting.

“With no thought for his own safety he waded out into the flood water and by the time he reached their car he was waist deep. He and the car could have fallen into ditches which were eight to ten feet deep. However, he struggled to hold the car and at the same time called the emergency services.

“He then held on to the vehicle for 15 minutes until the fire service arrived and discovered that the couple were trapped inside by the central locking system. The water level in the car was rising at a rate of around an inch a minute.

“In the end fire fighters wearing dry suits managed to secure the car and get the couple out and to a waiting ambulance.

“Mr May’s actions that day were truly heroic and he richly deserves the award he is to receive.”

Mr May, a professional musician, told The Herald he only did what anyone else would have done.

“The emergency services do this sort of thing every day and I don’t think anyone would have done anything different from me,” he said.

“I had been surfing in Cornwall two days before so I was used to cold water.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Midweek Herald visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Midweek Herald staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Midweek Herald account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

14:59
Seaton Town Crier David Craner. Photo by Terry Ife ref mhs 9935-11-12TI

Resort gears up for the annual town criers’ contest

Read more
53 minutes ago
Churchill Retirement Living hold an official opening for their Holyshute Lodge development in Honiton, Devon, with Dame Esther Rantzen. She is pictured with Regional Managing Director Martin Young and residents.

The complex, on Langford Road, was opened officially by the popular TV personality on Tuesday, July 21.

Read more

The 61-year-old died after he landed on the airfield on Friday (July 31).

Read more
21 minutes ago
Debbie Scadding throwing at Exmouth Ceramic Group's workshop.

It’s official – clay is cool! With BBC Two’s Great Pottery Throwdown due to hit our screens this autumn, the ceramic arts are poised to enjoy a new surge in popularity.

Read more
06:59
Pupils with their new CD

Charmouth Primary School records its own music CD

Read more
Yesterday, 17:00

The surgery will be contacting all of its patients over the next six weeks who are current year 13 students, and who will be 18 by Monday, August 31, to have the Men ACWY vaccine.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:30
Water Babes at Axminster's Flamingo Pool Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Swimming tots dress as pirates to raise money for Tommy’s, the baby charity

Read more
Yesterday, 11:30

Officers arrived at the scene at Acland Park on Friday (July 31) at 6.23pm.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:59
A bee collects lavender pollen from a garden in Axminster. Picture CHRIS CARSON

Plans to create a wildlife-friendly garden at Seaton Wetlands

Read more
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Denise Bartlett welcomes flood victims Chris and Jackie to Lyme Regis on behalf of the Rotary Club, with a welcome pack of goodies in the foreground. Picture: SUBMITTED

The terrible floods which devastated villages in the Somerset Levels in the winter of 2013-14 are a distant memory for most of us, but for residents of the area the reality is very much different.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Midweek Herald e-edition today E-edition


Honiton's trusted business finder