A young member of the Sunday School at Magheragall Parish Church has been praised for her bravery after raising the alarm when she realised someone was in difficulty in the sea.
The Ulster Star newspaper reports that 11-year-old Ella-Rose was caught in crashing waves at Silver Strand Beach, Co Donegal, last Bank Holiday, when the sea, which had appeared calm, suddenly changed. Knocked under the water by the might of a wave, Ella-Rose managed to get to her feet and realised that her grandmother’s partner Pat, who had been in the sea with her, was nowhere to be seen.
The paper reports that Ella-Rose kept a cool head and, battling a riptide, swam to shore to raise the alarm. Pat was helped out of the sea by others on the beach using life aids, and was later transferred by air ambulance to Sligo Hospital. Happily, he has since been discharged. He described Ella-Rose as ‘an amazing girl,’ and told the Ulster Star that she had ‘completely saved my life.”
Ella-Rose’s father Chris said family members were regular visitors to Donegal, and both Ella-Rose and Pat were strong swimmers. One of the reasons for sharing their story was, he said, to make people aware of how quickly the sea can change.
“When the helicopter landed on the beach, the sea looked to be clear and calm, you would not have thought there was any danger at all, but it just sucks you under, and even strong swimmers will find their energy sapped,” Chris said.
Ella-Rose’s Great Granny Valerie is a member of the choir of Magheragall Parish, and her parents Chris and Roxanne were married in the church where Ella Rose and her younger silbings were baptised. The family, who live in Hillsborough, have been very involved in the church over the years.
The rector of Magheragall, the Rev Nicholas Dark, said: “We are shocked at what happened but so thankful that everyone is safe and for how Ella-Rose responded in this situation. Saving Pat’s life by escaping the sea and raising the alarm is so brave. The family are in our prayers we are thanking God and praying for healing.”
Read the full Ulster Star report.