Pride of Britain: Kayak rescuer among Welsh winners

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Media caption,

The moment Joe and his dad were rescued by the RNLI

Four Welsh people, including a boy who rescued his father from icy waters in Anglesey, are to be honoured at the Pride of Britain awards.

Joe Rowlands, 14, saved his father Paul from drowning after he passed out from hypothermia when their kayak capsized more than a mile from the coast.

Emma Picton-Jones, who set up a mental health charity in Pembrokeshire, is to receive the special recognition award.

Two members of the Thai cave rescue team will also receive an award.

John Volathen and Rick Stanton, from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, dived through a network of underground caves and tunnels to save 12 boys and their football coach who had been trapped in a cave in Thailand for nine days.

The awards will be presented on 6 November.

'Saved my life'

Joe Rowlands and his father went for a kayaking trip off the coast of Ynys Dulas, an island off the coast of Anglesey, in February.

But when the kayak capsized a mile-and-a-half from shore, Joe and Paul, 51, had to swim to a cluster of rocks - but not before the firefighter passed out from hypothermia.

The pair were stranded on the rocks for about two hours before they were rescued by the RNLI, with Paul only surviving because his son performed CPR.

"Without this resource both myself and Joe wouldn't be here today, so I can't thank them enough," Mr Rowlands, from Nantwich, Cheshire, said.

"Joe also saved my life that day and was extremely courageous in a life and death situation."


Image source, AFP/Getty Images
Image caption,
(Left to right) Richard Stanton, Robert Harper and John Volanthen

It was a story which captivated the world.

In June, 12 boys who played for the same Thai football team and their coach entered a cave network in Chiang Rai in Thailand and became trapped after water levels rose.

They were rescued after nine days by a team which included two divers from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, based in Brecon, Rick Stanton and John Volathen, who are being honoured with the Outstanding Bravery award.

Image caption,
The rescue was thought by experts to be impossible

Finding them was described as a "moment of euphoria" by one of the divers, but none of the boys had ever dived before and were trapped about 1.5km below the surface in one of the deepest cave networks in the world.

The team of divers carefully brought out each one of the boys to safety through 4km of tunnels as narrow as 30cm (12 in) wide and managed to reunite all of the boys and their coach with their families.

Share the load

Media caption,

Call for mental health support in Welsh rural areas

In 2016, Emma Picton-Jones's husband Dan took his own life. He had been suffering from depression and anxiety for years.

As farmer in rural Pembrokeshire, support services for Dan were limited - despite his job having with one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.

In a note, he told his wife "you couldn't help me but you could help someone else".

In response, Ms Picton-Jones set up the DPJ foundation, raising more than £75,000, allowing her to launch the Share the Load text and phone service in January.

She will be honoured with the special recognition award for her contributions to mental health.

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