Angler relives dramatic sea rescue night

Peter Pilkington, who helped rescue an angler from the sea in Blackpool
Peter Pilkington, who helped rescue an angler from the sea in Blackpool
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A Leyland club angler has spoken of the dramatic rescue of a fellow fisherman from the sea in the early hours of the morning.

Peter Pilkington, together with clubmates Fred Howard and Alan Slater, have been hailed as heroes following their life-saving efforts.

Fifty-one-year-old Peter played a major part in the rescue, throwing a lifebuoy for the drowning man on the front at Blackpool.

Peter said: “I think a guardian angel must have been with him that night.”

The trio were taking part in a night fishing competition when the man fell into the sea.

Peter battled for 45 minutes to keep a line on the man before a lifeboat crew managed to pluck him to safety.

He said: “I was pretty calm at the time, but was on the rope nearly three quarters of an hour before lifting him up.

“He must have gone under the water two or three times - you could hear him gurgling under the water.

“It was absolutely terrible.

“I dragged him into the shore.

“I wasn’t too bad at the time, I was just going into autopilot.

“It didn’t hit me until the RNLI came and relieved me of some of the pressure.

“A lady police officer came and spoke to me and I just couldn’t get the words out. It was just so emotional. It was adrenalin and autopilot.

The men all belong to Leyland and District Sea Angling Club.

Peter, of Bamber Bridge, works as a concrete plant manager in Warrington; Fred, in his 40s of Leyland, is a mechanic working in Preston; and Alan, 70, of Fielden Street, Leyland, is a retired plaster and tiler.

Club secretary Susan Slater, Alan’s wife, said: “It was real heroic stuff.

“All three of them were brilliant. If they hadn’t done what they did the man would almost certainly have drowned.”

The drama happened just before 1am as 14 members of the Leyland club were taking part in an angling competition near to Gynn Square in the resort.

Susan said it appeared the unnamed man, thought to be aged 46, who was also fishing, end up in the water after catching a fish, unhooking it and throwing it back.

“The slope is about 10 to 12 feet and very slippery,” said Susan, who helped the rescue by shining a torch on the man throughout his ordeal.

“Suddenly we heard someone shouting, ‘Help, help, I’m drowning.’

The lads threw in two life buoys, but the man was getting weaker and weaker and couldn’t reach them.

“So Peter got as close as he could and threw another which landed close to him.

“He managed to get hold of that and very slowly they managed to pull him in.

“Peter wouldn’t let go of the rope for a full 45 minutes and he was exhausted by the time the lifeboat crew got the man out.

“It was a miracle that we had been near enough to hear his screams.

“We’re all so proud of the lads for doing what they did. When they heard the cries for help they just went into autopilot.”

She said her husband is registered disabled and was recovering from kidney cancer.”

RNLI helmsman Shaun Wright said: “The man we rescued was very lucky indeed.

“Had it not been for the quick thinking of the members of the public who called 999 and threw him a life ring, we might not have reached him in time.”

The man was treated in hospital for hyperthermia and later discharged.

He asked police for contact details of his rescuers so he could personally thank them, but as yet has not been in touch.