A PUB landlord who waded waist-deep into floodwaters to rescue a woman from York’s River Ouse has won an award for his bravery.
Dafydd Williams selflessly put his own life at risk to help the woman, almost certainly saving her life, said Chief Fire Officer Nigel Hutchinson.
Mr Williams, 33, who is the landlord of the King’s Arms on King’s Staith, swung into action when the woman jumped into the swollen river outside his pub last June.
“I was looking out of the window and she just disappeared,” he said. “I asked a friend to ring 999 and I put on waders which we keep at the pub.”
He said he then grabbed a life ring from near Ouse Bridge and ran along the staith as the woman was swept downstream.
He jumped on to a cruise boat pontoon and, up to his waist in water and holding on to a rail with one hand, grabbed the woman with the other hand as she was floating past.
He then hung to her until firefighters arrived in a boat, and rescued the pair of them.
“I was in there for about five or ten minutes,” he said.
Mr Hutchinson, presenting Mr Williams with a Chief Fire Officer’s commendation, said the pub landlord had been in a cold and tired state when the firefighters arrived, and the woman had been in grave danger.
“He put his own life at risk by entering the fast flowing Ouse in flood to rescue the woman,” he said. “Without his actions, she would almost certainly have drowned.”
He told Mr Williams: “You should be extremely proud of your actions.”
The rescue came almost a year after barman Richard Horrocks jumped from a balcony into the river and drowned. His was the third death in the Ouse in 2011, and it sparked The Press’ Think, Don’t Swim campaign, which was backed by Mr Horrocks’ family and encouraged people to think again before entering York’s dangerous rivers.
Mr Hutchinson also spoke of the fire service’s work in carrying out its own river rescues in 2012, which had been the wettest year on record leading to frequent flooding.
He said in four days in September alone, firefighters had attended more than 500 emergency incidents and rescued 175 people, while also pumping away millions of litres of water and trying to re-open vital transport routes such as the A1.