MODEST hero Ron Bates today told how he was “just doing what anybody would have done” when he rushed to rescue a stricken angler.
The great-grandad, along with son Mark and his fiancée Gill Fletcher, were fishing at Roker Pier when George Vest was struck by a huge wave, slamming him against the railings and breaking his right leg.
As reported in the Echo, the 66-year-old had been enjoying a day’s fishing when he started to pack up and go home because of worsening weather conditions.
“It all happened so suddenly,” said 67-year-old Ron. “It seemed to be over in a second.
“I was also packing up when it all started. I just happened to see him as the waves started to come over.
“I just dropped my fishing kit and ran over to help.”
As the waves continued to batter the pair, Ron, from Lakeside, managed to help the angler out of danger.
“The waves were coming over and he was in a bad way,” he said. “
He was pushed against the fence. But I managed to help steady him and get him out of trouble.
“To be honest, I didn’t think much about it at the time.
“I was just doing what anybody would have done.”
Ron, who was helped by Mark and Gill, a former nurse, managed to keep the dad warm and comfortable as paramedics arrived at the scene to treat him.
An RAF Sea King helicopter took Mr Vest to the RVI in Newcastle for treatment.
“We piled our coats on him to help keep him warm,” said retired butcher Ron. “Thankfully, the emergency services arrived and they were able to get him off to hospital quickly.
“We’re all just relieved he’s okay.”
Mr Vest, a retired driver for the National Coal Board, has had hundreds of pounds worth of equipment destroyed after his fishing rod was snapped and his angling clothes had to be cut off so he could receive treatment.
His broken limb is in plaster and doctors have told him he will be “immobile” for about 12 weeks.
In the meantime, his son Matthew, 19, and neighbours are helping to look after him.
Recalling the near tragedy last month as he recovers at his home in West Rainton, Mr Vest paid tribute to the quick-thinking trio.
“I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse if they hadn’t been there to help.
“I was pressed up against the fence. I could have been swept into the sea.
“The weather changed in a flash.
“One minute it was fine, the next the waves were crashing down on me.”