Brave Hailsham schoolboy honoured for saving life of man in sea

Principal Phil Matthews, Alfie Williams, Ruth Britton and her granddaughter Emily Curryer
Principal Phil Matthews, Alfie Williams, Ruth Britton and her granddaughter Emily Curryer

A schoolboy has been hailed as a hero after saving the life of a man who got into difficulties in the sea.

Fourteen-year-old Alfie Williams was with friends on Eastbourne beach in April when he saw the man fall into the water from his kayak and shout for help.

The teenager immediately swam out a significant distance to the end of the pier and guided the victim safely back to the shore. The paramedics who attended the scene said the man was in genuine danger of drowning and praised Alfie for saving his life.

The Hailsham Community College student’s courageous action was recognised when he received this year’s John Britton Award for Service to the Community at a special presentation today (December 19).

“I would like to publicly congratulate the actions of our student Alfie Williams who recently saved a man’s life!” said Phil Matthews, Principal at Hailsham Community College.

He continued: “Alfie has modestly said that anybody would have done the same thing. I disagree. I think if we are all honest, most of us would stand by and wait for somebody else to take action.

“Alfie has shown himself to be a very impressive young man, who can feel very proud indeed of his quick and selfless actions. I took great pleasure in awarding him with a Certificate of Excellence immediately after the event and am delighted for him that his outstanding contribution has now been recognised via the John Britton Award.”

The Mayor of Hailsham, Cllr Nigel Coltman, said the accolade was richly deserved. He said: “The fact that this award is being offered gives us a brilliant opportunity to recognise that young people do a lot of positive things with their lives.

“Alfie should be proud of his dedication, selflessness and support towards the man whose life he saved earlier this year. Thank you, congratulations and well done to you Alfie.”

Ruth Britton, founder of the John Britton Award, said: “Alfie is a very brave young man, and a worthy winner of the John Britton Award. His family must be extremely proud of him.”

The late John Britton was Hailsham and District Youth Leader from 1970 until 1987 and was much loved and respected by those who knew him.

Having encouraged teenagers to become involved with people in the community, his widow Ruth and daughters Lorraine and Joanna felt that his motivational work should be reflected by way of the introducing the Youth Community Award eight years ago.