A HERO boat skipper has compared himself to Britain’s Strongest Man after he plucked an eight-month-old baby girl from the River Dee with one hand.
Quick-thinking Paul Blessing, 44, pulled the baby on to the deck of the Lady Diana pleasure boat after seeing her pram roll along the path and into the river at The Groves in Chester.
Paul, who lives in Cefn-y-bedd, near Wrexham, with his wife and two sons, said as a father himself the incident was terrifying as he spoke about the drama for the first time to the Leader.
The path where the pram rolled down to the river
The skipper and assistant manager at ChesterBoat sightseeing cruises, said: “Having two boys myself, I know how the father must have felt. It was absolutely terrifying – I know how I would feel if it happened to me.
“He had his two daughters with him and had bought them ice creams from the kiosk on The Groves.
“I think one of them must have dropped hers and when he bent down the pram started to roll.
“I saw the pram rolling along the path. It was only for a few seconds but it felt like it was going in slow motion. It was like watching a scene from a film.
“The pram went into the water and was upside down. I reached in, and felt like Britain's Strongest Man, as I pulled the pram up to the stage with one hand.
“I grabbed hold of the pram and thought I have to get the baby. I managed to grab her legs and pull her up. It wasn't easy, you know how hard it can be to get hold of a baby to get them out of the bath.”
Paul, who teaches sword fighting and takes part in historic battle re-enactments as a hobby, praised the paramedics for their quick reponse.
He added: “We stripped the baby and wrapped her in a foil blanket. The paramedics were great and got here so quickly. I was still on the 999 call when they arrived.
“The dad was in shock but he shook my hand and thanked me.”
The dramatic rescue took place just before 1.45pm on Wednesday.
A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service confirmed that they had attended.
The baby girl was unharmed but soaking wet following the ordeal and was taken to hospital as a precaution.
The spokesman said: “We were called at 13.44 to The Groves in Chester.
“The casualty, an eight-month-old baby girl, had been in the water but was not in the water when we arrived. She was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital to be checked over.”
Coincidentally, immediately after the rescue, Mr Blessing and other members of ChesterBoat’s staff took part in emergency safety training on the river alongside members of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire Police.
See full story in the Leader