Caption David and family pet before drama unfolded
Caption David and family pet before drama unfolded

A courageous dad from St Andrews who helped rescue a terrified youngster from the sea off Kingsbarns beach has been hailed a hero.

David Anderson (45), a senior chef at St Andrews University, was at the East Neuk sands with his partner, Fiona Harrison, and their three-year-old daughter, Rebecca, when the drama unfolded.

The family were sitting on the beach with their puppy, Wilson, when they noticed the schoolboy — thought to be around 10 years old — on his boogie board in the sea around 100 yards from the shore.

Fiona, who watched the rescue effort from the beach, said they initially saw the boy’s father go into the water and at that point David realised that the child was in trouble.

Almost immediately another man stripped down to his underwear and dived in, while a fully clothed woman — it later emerged they were the boy’s uncle and aunt — appeared with an emergency lifebuoy around her with the rope attached and started to wade into the water.

Fiona continued: ”By this time, the boy, his dad and the other man were all still quite far out and treading water and getting nowhere.

“David advised the woman there was no point in her going out with the ring if no-one was holding the rope to pull them back in.

“He then pulled off his T-shirt and waded into the water with the rope, while the woman swam out to the three people who were stranded.

“David is six feet tall, but the water was well over his head.

However, he managed to get his footing on a rock to keep him slightly above the water level and then managed to pull all four people to the safety of some rocks, before helping them back to the shore.

”The boy and his father were quite badly shaken, in particular the father due to the length of time he had been in the cold water.

However, he was able to thank David for his prompt action which helped avert what could have had tragic consequences.

”I was pretty worried but, fortunately, David is a strong swimmer. However, I was glad when he made it back ashore.

“Rebecca was playing in the sand and was not aware what was going on.”

A modest David told the Citizen: ”I think I did what most people would have done in the situation and just wanted to help.

“Having children myself I would like to think someone would have done the same for me and I was just thankful that the boy and his family were safe.”

It is understood that the family were on the first day of a holiday.

“They had arrived earlier in the day and had only gone to the beach to kill time until they were able to get entry to their accommodation.

And, in another twist of fate, it also emerged that David, Fiona and Rebecca were in Kingbarns to visit her parents’ home and use their washing machine as their own was waiting to be repaired - and had gone to the beach only as an afterthought.

Fiona, who also works at St Andrews University as a secretary, concluded:”Our 10-week-only puppy had just had his second injection and we thought it would be nice to take him for his first walk to the beach at Kingsbarns. We won’t forget that in a hurry.”