Farmer to receive bravery award for rescuing women trapped in flood waters
A COURAGEOUS farmer is to receive one of Britain's top bravery awards for the dramatic rescue of a female motorist who was trapped in a raging torrent during the November floods.
After he learned of his award yesterday, unassuming Andrew Rennie insisted: "I don't think I'm a hero – I just did what anyone else would have done. All I did was answer a call for assistance.
"You're never sure when you're going to be grateful yourself for someone's help."
His role in saving the woman's life began in the early hours on 2 November after the River Deveron in Aberdeenshire burst its banks following days of torrential rain, turning roads into treacherous and fast-flowing stretches of the main river.
He was fast asleep in his farmhouse home at Gask Farm, near Turriff, when the phone rang. On the other end was a local fireman with a simple message: "There's a woman trapped in her car. Can you take something big and heavy with you – preferably a tractor?"
Two miles away, on the other side of Turriff, housewife Helen Catto, from Fyvie, was trapped alone in her car by rapidly rising floodwaters on what had been the main road between Turriff and Aberchirder. The water had already reached the window level of her car and she was in the early stages of hypothermia.
Firefighters had been unable to get to her across the 100-yard stretch of floodwaters. Mr Rennie was her only hope of survival.
Yesterday, after being told that he is to receive a Testimonial on Vellum from the Royal Humane Society for his bravery , Mr Rennie, 41,
recalled: "When I reached the scene it was pitch black, but there was fast flowing water everywhere. You couldn't see the car from where the fire engine was.
"But we knew Mrs Catto had phoned her son and told him her car had been swept away. She had then either run out of batteries or dropped her phone and there had been no more word from her."
Mr Rennie, at the wheel of the massive tractor, then began to edge his way slowly along the flooded road, with a firefighter strapped, half in and half out, to each side of the cab.
He said: "I was trying to figure out where the edge of the road was because the water was so deep. I was worried the tractor would get swept away. You had to watch where you were driving because of the strong currents.
"The whole road was a river. The biggest fear was that the water had undermined the road and we could get stranded ourselves."
Slowly but surely they reached Mrs Catto's car which has been forced sideways on the carriageway by the force of the torrent and wedged against a bank.
The two firemen eventually managed to prise open one of the car doors and free her. Mr Rennie said:
"As soon as we got back to dry land she was taken away in the ambulance. I never saw Mrs Catto but her son came and thanked me personally later in the day."
He added: "It's quite an honour to be recommended for one of these awards. But when you get a phone call in the early hours of the morning, asking for help, you get up and try and assist someone when you can. You're never sure when you're going to need assistance yourself in this life."
Dick Williamson, the secretary of the Royal Humane Society, praised Mr Rennie's courage as he announced the award at its London headquarters. He said: "This was a remarkable rescue. His selfless actions without doubt saved this woman's life, and he thoroughly deserves this award."
AWARDS FOR THOSE WHO SAVE LIVES WHATEVER THE RISKS
THE Royal Humane Society is a charity that grants awards for acts of bravery that save lives.
It was founded in London in 1774 by two eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan, who were keen to promote the use of resuscitation techniques.
The charity has made more than 85,000 awards, which include bronze, silver and gold medals and testimonials on vellum or parchment.
Incidents that have taken place anywhere in the world are considered and anyone of any nationality can be nominated for an award.
However, a British person must have been involved in the incident as the rescuer, the rescued, the person resuscitated or the resuscitator.
Citizens of other countries can address nominations to their own humane societies.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West