Plamen Petkov honoured for saving girl from sea


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The Independent Online

A man who died saving a five-year-old girl who was being swept out to sea has been recognised for his heroism.

Plamen Petkov heard the girl's mother's screams, dived into the water and swam to save her as she drifted out to sea on an inflatable ring at West Wittering beach in West Sussex last month.

When he reached the child, she jumped into his arms. He was exhausted and being dragged under by the current but managed to hold her above the water and pass her to safety.

Mr Petkov, 32, an electrician from Sutton, Surrey, was brought ashore unconscious but died on the beach.

He has been posthumously honoured with the highest civilian award for bravery – the Honorary Decoration of St George – in his home country, Bulgaria, for his "self-sacrifice and courage".

His family has also set up a fund in his memory to support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Explaining their decision to support the RNLI, Mr Petkov's family said: "We are touched by the fact that Plamen's heroic act has been so widely and internationally praised. We would like to direct the support of those who have been moved by his bravery to the RNLI in their efforts to make Britain's beaches safer."

The fund, which was set up days after his death on 26 May, has raised £410 to assist the RNLI's work in saving lives.

Gemma Nightingale, from the RNLI, said: "We are honoured the Petkov family has chosen to remember his life with a Forever by the Sea fund. It is a fitting tribute that this young man's ultimate generosity of spirit will be reflected in the generosity of those who visit the site."