Wales

Sick leave shark wrestler Paul Marshallsea sacked

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Media captionPaul Marshallsea, from Merthyr Tydfil, worked at a youth club in the town

A charity worker has been sacked after his bosses saw footage of him wrestling a shark in Australia while he was on sick leave for stress.

Paul Marshallsea, 62, from Merthyr Tydfil, grabbed the shark by the tail as it swam towards children and dragged it to deeper water off Bulcock Beach.

His story made headlines across the world and lifeguards praised him.

He has been sacked by the Pant and Dowlais Boys and Girls Club which blamed a "breakdown" of confidence.

Mr Marshallsea and his wife Wendy, 56, were on extended sick leave for work-related stress from the charity for which they had worked 10 years.

They visited friends on a two-month break in Australia and were having a barbecue on the beach when a fin was spotted in the water.

Mr Marshallsea ran into the sea where he was filmed dragging the 6ft-long (1.8m) dusky whaler shark into deeper water.

The charity's former project co-ordinator, said: "If I hadn't gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job."

Image caption Mr Marshallsea with his wife Wendy and daughter Rachel

The couple had taken sick leave due to stress.

"The stress of running this in your own community - it's like a monster," said Mr Marshallsea.

"We created a whip to hit our own backs. It grew so big and we didn't realise. There was no stopping it.

"Our doctor advised us to go on holiday so we travelled to stay with friends in Australia.

"I never thought for one minute that wrestling with shark would cost me my job."

A spokeswoman on behalf of the trustees for Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club said the charity was advised by its solicitors not to comment on the matter.

In a letter to Mr Marshallsea seen by the BBC, he was told by the trustees: "Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way.

"The photographs and footage appeared in newspapers and television broadcasts."

Mr Marshallsea said he received a second letter stating: "The breakdown of the trustees' confidence and trust in you and your ability to perform the role is so great that we find that dismissal is the only course of action we can recommend."

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