John Prescott saved my life

By Jonathan BarnesA CANOEIST who was rescued from a white water rapids accident by John Prescott is hoping to make the Deputy Prime Minister an honorary member of his East Anglian canoe club.

By Jonathan Barnes

A CANOEIST who was rescued from a white water rapids accident by John Prescott is hoping to make the Deputy Prime Minister an honorary member of his East Anglian canoe club.

Graham Cook, 35, of the Suffolk-based Waveney Valley Canoe Club, was knocked over by a raft while tackling a steep, mountain river in Snowdonia, North Wales.

The father-of-three travelled 80 yards in the capsized position before struggling free. When he came to the surface, he was concussed and had a badly gashed eyebrow.


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As he battled to reach the bank, he was hauled out by Mr Prescott, who was planning a white water raft expedition there the following day and had come to inspect the course.

Aided by his Special Branch bodyguard, the Deputy Prime Minister helped Mr Cook from the water and mopped his bloodied face.

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He then left him with staff at Canolfan Tryweryn, the National Whitewater Centre, in Bala.

Mr Cook, a plumbing and heating engineer from Ashby St Mary, Norfolk, required six stitches following the accident, which happened on Friday afternoon.

Speaking at home yesterday, Mr Cook said he had not initially recognised his famous rescuer, but had been "grateful" for his help.

"I didn't realise at the time who it was that dragged me out because I had just gone about 80 metres in grade four white water, upside down, with a raft following me," he added.

"I was a bit dazed and I was getting changed, ready to go to the hospital, and his car stopped and he asked me if I was okay. He seemed genuinely concerned.

"I think he did what you would hope anyone would do, but having said that, it was him who stepped forward and did the business. He didn't just leave it to someone else and I'm very grateful to him for that."

Mr Cook said he was hoping to make Mr Prescott an honorary member of Waveney Valley Canoe Club, based at Bungay Staithe, on the River Waveney.

"We have just built a £500,000 clubhouse, using European money. It hasn't been properly opened yet, so it would be nice if Mr Prescott could come and do the honours," he addd.

"We could try to get him in a kayak, but he might not fit because he's a big bloke. But we could certainly take him out in something bigger if he fancied it and make him an honorary member."

Dave Cassell, chairman of the club, which is more than 50 years old has about 120 members from across the region, said a group of nine canoeists had travelled to Snowdonia to gain greater experience of white water conditions.

"It was a fast flowing, rocky river and we were warned about the rafts coming down," he added.

"Graham couldn't get out of the way in time, through no fault of his own, and John Prescott was in the right place at the right time."

Mr Prescott said he had gone at 4.30pm on Friday to look at the course when he had seen the accident happen.

"He was trying to get to the bank and one of the approaching rafts landed on top of him," he added.

"He got to the quay and one of my Special Branch guys ran over and grabbed hold of one side. I got hold of the other and we pulled him ashore.

"He was a little bit concussed. I mopped the blood from his face and let him rest for a few minutes and we carried him to the first aid place and other people took over."

The incident did not prevent Mr Prescott from taking his rafting trip the following day. He donned waterproofs, a lifejacket and helmet before twice riding the rapids with other members of the public.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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