2022 Winner


Teenager who saved the lives of a young boy and her father after they were swept away by treacherous river currents.

Lucy was on holiday with her family in France, when the terrifying situation unfolded. She was paddle-boarding in the Charente River with Mathieu, the young son of a family friend, when she noticed he was in trouble. Mathieu, eight, had started drifting away, pulled by a strong current which was taking him into much deeper, dangerous waters. When Mathieu started to panic, Lucy, then 14, immediately tried to reassure him and walked alongside him in shallow water close to the river bank. Her father Graham, who can’t swim, was also walking along in the water to try and help.

As the flow of the river became stronger, Mathieu and his paddle board were swept away. Lucy, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, realised this was now a life or death situation. She told her father to turn back, and started to swim out to Mathieu herself, managing to reach the frightened boy and drag him to the bank.

However, as she did, the current and volume of moving water swept Graham off his feet and into the deeper part of the river. Seeing her dad was also now in grave danger, Lucy got back into the river and swam to him; urging him to turn onto his back so he would float. She managed to pull him to the edge and he was helped to safety with the assistance of Mathieu’s father, Pascal.

But Lucy’s ordeal wasn’t over. Exhausted after dragging two people against the current, she had no strength left to fight the flow herself, and was pulled out into deep water.  With no energy left to swim, she spotted her paddle board floating and managed to grab it, clinging on and finally drifting to the safety of the river bank. Graham, a head teacher, says: “I can’t swim and there was a limit to what I could do. “I have no doubt that Lucy’s quick and decisive actions that afternoon prevented injury and perhaps worse to a frightened child and prevented me from drowning. “As a family we couldn’t be prouder to see her recognised in this way.”