Highlands & Islands

Kayaker thanks rescuer for saving life in Skye accident

David Campbell and Rev Dr Rory MacLeod Image copyright Church of Scotland
Image caption David Campbell went to the aid of Rev Dr Rory MacLeod

An experienced kayaker says he would have drowned if not for the actions of a man who waded out to where he had capsized and dragged him to shore.

Church of Scotland minister Rev Dr Rory MacLeod blacked out while trying to swim to safety after his kayak overturned off Kylerhea on Skye.

David Campbell, 63, had seen Dr MacLeod struggling in the rough sea from shore and went to his aid.

The minister has made a full recovery from his ordeal on 12 June.

RNLI Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat and Stornoway Coastguard helicopter were called to the incident.

Dr MacLeod, who has also thanked the RNLI and coastguard for their help, was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment.

The former Royal Marine chaplain said: "Although I was unconscious when David rescued me, my gratitude is sharpened by the awareness of having lost a great uncle in similar circumstances off the coast of Islay, when he went in to help a swimmer who had got into difficulty.

"Though a strong swimmer himself, both he and the victim were swept out to sea and drowned.

"So I left David in no doubt that his heroic action was not taken for granted."

Image copyright Kyle RNLI
Image caption A coastguard helicopter and Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI at scene of the rescue

He added: "Whatever else he might have achieved during his life, he can enjoy knowing that he gave a wife back her husband and restored a father to their children."

The crew of a passing fishing boat had offered Dr MacLeod assistance, but he believed he could make it ashore.

However, the conditions caused by a sudden storm got the better of him.

Mr Campbell said: "I watched Rory through binoculars swimming for the best part of 30 minutes and he was not getting much nearer to the beach.

"So I thought I better go and give him a hand to pull the kayak in.

"I put on a short sleeved wetsuit and grabbed a 65-foot rope and waded out.

"I was in the water up to my neck and standing on the bottom."

Mr Campbell added that it had been "nice to see" Dr MacLeod back home with this family since the incident, adding: "I am glad of the opportunity to be able to help him."

Dr MacLeod leads Strath and Sleat congregations on Skye.

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