Glasgow & West Scotland

'Lucky' surfer thanks rescue 'heroes'

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Media captionCoastguard footage of the moment Matthew Bryce was winched to safety

A surfer who was rescued after spending 32 hours in the sea has thanked the "heroes" who saved him.

Speaking from his hospital bed in Belfast, Matthew Bryce said he was grateful to be receiving treatment following his ordeal.

The 22-year-old from Glasgow was picked up by a coastguard helicopter 13 miles off the Argyll coast on Monday night after going surfing on Sunday morning.

He is now receiving treatment for the effects of hypothermia.

'Absolute rollercoaster'

In a statement, issued through Ulster Hospital, Mr Bryce said: "I am so grateful that I am now receiving treatment in hospital.

"I can't thank those enough who rescued and cared for me - they are all heroes.

"For now, I am not facilitating any interviews as I am exhausted. Please respect the privacy of myself and my family at this time as I recover."

Mr Bryce was reported missing by his family after failing to return from a surfing trip on Sunday. He had last been seen at about 09:00 on Sunday in the St Catherines area.

He was believed to be heading to Westport Beach near Campbeltown but is understood to have set off from Machrihanish beach.

Image copyright Geograph/Police Scotland
Image caption Mathew Bryce was found 13 miles from the Scottish shore after setting off from Machrihanish beach

Police Scotland and the coastguard launched a large-scale search which eventually resulted in the surfer being spotted by a rescue helicopter at 19:30 on Monday, drifting 13 miles out to sea.

Mr Bryce's father, John Bryce, described his son's rescue as "unbelievable" and said it was even better than a lottery win.

He said: "The past 48 hours have been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions for our family and we are so grateful that Matthew has been found safe and well.

"To get that call from the police last night to say that he was alive was unbelievable - it was better than a lottery win - you just can't describe it.

Image copyright Pacemaker Press
Image caption Matthew Bryce is being treated for effects of hypothermia at Ulster Hospital

"Matthew means the world to us, he is such a strong character both mentally and physically, and we are looking forward to being reunited with him."

Mr Bryce said he had had limited contact with his son but that he was in good spirits.

'Forever grateful'

He added: "We've managed to speak to him briefly on the phone and he is obviously exhausted after his ordeal, but he is in good spirits and happy to be alive.

"Our family cannot thank the Coastguard, RNLI volunteers and police officers involved in finding Matthew enough. I would also like to thank our friends and family as well as the hundreds of people who offered their support on social media.

"We have been overwhelmed by your support and good wishes and we will be forever grateful to every single one of you."

The coastguard said they believed Matthew Bryce's knowledge and wetsuit saved his life.

Conditions in the Irish Sea were also "fairly benign" throughout Monday.

Dawn Petrie, from the Belfast coastguard operations centre, said: "He'd been in the water for some 30 hours when the helicopter was delighted to spot him.

"He was extremely lucky.

"He was wearing the right equipment, had a very thick neoprene wetsuit on and did the right thing by staying with his surfboard.

"That must have helped him to survive for so long."

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