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August 23, 2005
Burnham hovercraft crew thanked for saving family's two dogs

A family whose two dogs were saved by Burnham's Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft returned to the town this week - one year on from the rescue - to thank crewmembers and hand over a cheque towards the upkeep of the craft.

Glyn and Carol Thomas from Hanham, near Bristol, had almost given up Muttley and Rosie as lost when the dogs became stranded on Brean mudflats on Saturday July 24 last year.

Every approach from the shore simply scared the tiny West Highland white terriers further away and towards the rising tide.

The terrified animals could not be coaxed back to dry land despite the efforts of Coastguards and Mrs Thomas, who waded out until the mud was around her waistline.

"The beach warden told me to come back because it was so dangerous. It was so distressing to watch. I was in tears," she recalled.

As a last ditch effort, the Burnham hovercraft was called to the scene, about one mile out into the mud at Brean, and skimmed across the mud with the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team onboard.

They managed to coax the dogs back on to the beach and into the relieved arms of the waiting family - Glyn, Carol and their 10-year-old son, Gavin.

"We thought we were just going to find two bodies the following morning," said Mrs Thomas. "But the dogs were fine - just a bit dirty and in need of a big bath."

The family visited Burnham's hovercraft station this week and handed over a cheque for £200 towards maintenance of the craft.

Glyn said at this week's presentation: "Dog owners everywhere will know how pets are irreplaceable, much like children.

"That day will therefore always stick in our minds. I am convinced that without this incredible hovercraft here in Burnham we would have suffered a family tragedy.

"We're therefore incredibly grateful to everyone who is involved with the hovercraft and will support it in every way we can. This cheque is a token of the gratitude."

Hovercraft pilot Pete Emery and Alan Miller, chairman of BARB, thanked the family for their generous donation.

Alan added: "If we don't go to the aid of animals, there's often a risk that someone will enter the water to try carrying out the rescue themselves. This can quickly turn into a tragedy.

"Providing that we're not jeopardising the rescue of a human elsewhere, we'll always help. We're here to provide a rescue service."


Official Burnham Hovercraft Web site



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