Former mayor in rescue drama

WHEN Monty Pitkin was woken in the middle of the night by terrified shouts from outside his home, only one thing stopped him from rushing to the rescue – he had to pause while he put on his false leg.

WHEN Monty Pitkin was woken in the middle of the night by terrified shouts from outside his home, only one thing stopped him from rushing to the rescue – he had to pause while he put on his false leg.

The commotion disturbed Mr Pitkin, 69, at his home at Gillingham, near Beccles, early on Wednesday. With the aid of his crutches, he went to the window but was unable to see anything.

Mr Pitkin, a retired councillor and former mayor of Beccles, was going back to bed when he heard desperate cries for help.

A car had come off the road at the bridge outside his home, flipped over a concrete wall and became lodged on the river bank, perched precariously.


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Mr Pitkin said: "My first thought was that it could have been a boat that had hit the bridge.

"I was hopping about trying to look out of the window but couldn't see anything. I was just about to get back into bed when I heard someone shouting for help. It took me a few minutes but I put my leg on and went out to see what was going on."

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The shouts were coming from the driver who was trapped in the car.

"The man was clearly distressed and I could see that his face was injured. He was calling out but couldn't get out of the car because the engine had come right through into the foot well of the car, trapping him," said Mr Pitkin.

He fetched a rope and used it to secure the car to a nearby tree to try to prevent the driver's movements plunging it into the water.

"I was worried that the car might tip into the river, I didn't want to take any risks so felt it would be a good idea to secure it just in case."

Three fire crews spent nearly 40 minutes cutting the driver free from the wreckage of his white Peugeot 406, which had been travelling towards Beccles when it veered off the road at about 4.30am.

Mike Hembling, Sub Officer at Beccles fire station, said: "The situation could have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the actions of Mr Pitkin.

"He played an important part in the successful rescue of the driver."

The man was taken by ambulance to the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston, with a broken leg and facial injuries.

The road was closed for more than four hours while the car was removed using hydraulic machinery.

Nicholas Garrod, a qualified nurse and service manager at Ipswich hospital, was another one quickly on the scene.

Mr Garrod, who lives in the former pub, The Ship, said: "I was woken by a massive bang which caused me concern. I looked out of the window but couldn't see anything so I went downstairs and saw car taillights under the bridge from the patio doors. I threw some clothes on and went outside.

"I could hear someone screaming for help which was quite frightening. I called the emergency services and stayed by the car trying to comfort him.

"The car was balanced on the side of the bank and there was leaking petrol.

"He was very lucky that the car did not go into the river as there could have been a fatality."

Mr Pitkin, who celebrates his 70th birthday in September, lost his leg more than 40 years ago when he was involved in a collision with a car while out riding his motorbike.

"I've never let my disability stop me from living a normal life, it is something that I have come to terms with," he said.

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