A mum who was left clinging to a branch after being swept away in floodwater in Umberleigh has thanked RNLI volunteers for ‘saving her life’.
Vanessa Glover, 46, was rescued from fast-flowing floodwater after she got swept away in the early hours of December 23.
She was left clinging to a branch after being swept away from her car which was forced off the road by the power of the floodwater.
He husband Paul and 7-year-old son Silas were left clinging to the car’s roof.
Mrs Glover was pulled from the water by the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team, having been in the floodwater for around 50 minutes.
Yesterday, she met with three members of the team and thanked them for giving her the “gift of life”.
She said: “I want to thank you for your bravery, courage, determination, professionalism and commendable quality of character.
“You embody the highest principles of selflessness I know: greater love hath no man then that he lay down his life for friends.
“But you were prepared to do that for a stranger and that stranger was me and in so doing you gave me the gift of life and the joy of knowing that Santa called on my son at Christmas.
“I will hold you in my heart forever. Thank you for saving my life.”
Three of the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team are to receive medals for their act of bravery during the rescue.
Boat Team Leader Paul Eastment, 46, helmsman Chris Missen, 25, and crew member Martin Blaker-Rowe, 33, are each to be awarded a RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry, one of the Institution’s highest accolades
Mr Eastment said receiving the award was the “proudest moment of his career”.
He said: “I was amazed and delighted, gobsmacked even, when I heard I’d been awarded an RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry.
“For our actions during this rescue to be recognised is the proudest moment of my career.
“Most importantly for me was the recognition for the whole team – the risk to all of us was significant – and each member of the team was vital to the successful of the rescue.”
Neil Blackburn, Group Manager with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and on scene incident commander during the rescue, said their effots “without doubt saved the life of Mrs Glover”.
He said: ‘During my 26 years in the Fire and Rescue Service, this would rate amongst the most challenging incidents with which I have had to contend.”
Shore crew member Bernie Mannings, 50, and driver Jason Dunlop, 40, will be recognised with the Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum for their part in the rescue.
RNLI Incident Commander Robin Goodlad will be awarded the Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the Institution. They supported the boat team throughout the incident, driving through flooded roads to the launch site and, once safely there, contributing to the difficult decisions the team had to make.
Mrs Glover urged members of the public to donate to the RNLI.
She said : “Please give as generously as you are able to support the work of the RNLI so that we might, through our combined efforts, say thank you to these remarkable heroes and inspirational role models in ways that are meaningful to them.”
“I want to say thank you to Natalie, Terry, Ben, Steve, John, Richard Tate, The Alford family and every member of the emergency services involved in the Umberleigh incident however remotely.
“Thank you all for your part in my rescue, it meant and means so much to me that you were there.”
VIDEO: This video footage, taken by the Devon and Cornwall Police helicopter, shows Vanessa Glover clinging to a tree branch in the river.
It also shows the moment RNLI volunteer lifeguards and rescue crews located her and brought her to safety.