Lifeguards recognised for a courageous rescue

On 24 August 2017 Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger received the RNLI’s Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award for his heroic actions last summer, when he risked his own life to save bodyboarder , Mary Harkin, at Croyde Beach, North Devon.
Freddie Hedger and Sean Deasy on patrol at Croyde beach

Photo: Jade Dyer

The Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award is presented annually by our Trustees for the most meritorious rescue by lifeguards during the previous season.

Awarded for his bravery

The award was given to Freddie Hedger for his courage, determination and skill during the difficult rescue which took place on 8 August 2016. Freddie was keen to reiterate that without the assistance of fellow Lifeguard Sean Deasy, it’s unlikely that the rescue would have had a positive outcome. So he asked Sean to accept the award with him during the ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by Freddie’s friends, family and colleagues. Freddie was presented with the Alison Saunders Lifeguard Award by the sponsor herself and George Rawlinson also presented Freddie with a Framed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the Institution.

Sean Deasy, Alison Saunders and Freddie Hedger with the award after the ceremony

Talking about the ceremony, Freddie said:

‘I feel very privileged to be recognised and given the award but as I’ve said before, I don’t think I’d have been able to do it without the rest of the team there on the day. It wasn’t just me, and it was only with Sean’s perseverance and assistance with the rescue water-craft that I was able to reach the safety of the shore. It was definitely a team effort.’

Sean Deasy added:

‘The rescue was very unorthodox so took a lot of improvisation using the skills we’d gained through our RNLI training. I think I was fortunate to have Freddie Hedger with me as he has incredible water skills and was able to think on his feet to save Mary’s life.’

This year marks Freddie’s final season as an RNLI lifeguard as he will be relocating to train as an officer in the armed forces, but he says he is pleased with the work he has carried out for the RNLI over the years and hopes to still be involved in some way in the future. After peak season has ended, Sean will be returning to Hong Kong to teach children until next summer, when he intends to return to North Devon as a lifeguard again.