Orford: Off-duty firefighter saves lives of two children stranded at sea

Jim Golder, of Orford, has been praised for his bravery after dragging to shore a nine-year-old girl

Jim Golder, of Orford, has been praised for his bravery after dragging to shore a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy who were struggling to stay above the water at Sea Palling on the Norfolk coast at around 3.30pm on Friday. - Credit: Archant

An off-duty firefighter enjoying a seaside holiday switched back into rescuing mode when saving the lives of two young children who nearly drowned out at sea.

Jim Golder, of Orford, has been praised for his bravery after dragging to shore a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy who were struggling to stay above the water at Sea Palling on the Norfolk coast at around 3.30pm on Friday.

The 49-year-old firefighter, who is based in Ipswich, said he is “convinced” the boy would have drowned had he not spotted them.

Mr Golder, who was holidaying with his wife Debbie, 43, and daughter Izzy, 12, soon realised the pair were in trouble.

“They were around 60m out and were clearly struggling, so I just ran in without thinking,” the firefighter of 25 years said.

“As I was approaching the boy I saw him twice go under. He grabbed hold of my neck and then I got hold of the girl who was nearby.

“It was actually quite difficult then trying to swim back to shore, especially when your feet can’t touch the ground. It was scary.

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“But I got going and as we approached the shore another man ran in and helped bring the kids to safety.”

He said the parents of another 12-year-girl meant to be watching over the pair came running over.

“They thanked me for what I did but I want to warn people who use this beach of the dangers of the strong tide, and to make sure children swimming at any beach are being watched like a hawk all the time,” Mr Golder said.

Sam Kendrick, North Norfolk’s RNLI area lifeguard supervisor, said Mr Golder’s quick-thinking action saved the lives of the two children.

“He pulled the children out of difficulty and saved their lives,” Mr Kendrick added. “He did a fantastic job.

“We always recommend people to swim within the flags at the beach.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said the children were treated for minor injuries. “They were left in the care of their families and made their own way to hospital,” he added.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman warned swimmers to stay within the flagged area and to listen to the advice of the lifeguards.

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