‘My lips were black’ - Man thanks rescuers after brush with death in Broads

PUBLISHED: 08:02 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:22 30 September 2019

John Donaldson, from north Yorkshire, who was rescued after he fell into a river in the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Supplied by John Donaldson

John Donaldson, from north Yorkshire, who was rescued after he fell into a river in the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Supplied by John Donaldson


A 77-year-old is lucky to be alive after he fell into a river in the Norfolk Broads and was underwater for two or three minutes.

Boats moored on Womack Water.  Picture: James BassBoats moored on Womack Water. Picture: James Bass

John Donaldson, a retired civil engineer, now wants to thank the good Samaritans who risked their lives to save his.

Mr Donaldson, who lives in Hunmanby in north Yorkshire, fell into the water from a rented boat. He was not wearing a life jacket and does not know how to swim.

He said: "It was a pretty traumatic experience and I was extremely lucky, to say the least.

"It's a good warning to anyone else to wear a ruddy life jacket."

Mr Donaldson was on holidays with a friend, and they had rented a boat from Richardson's of Stalham when the incident happened on September 15.

He said: "We moored up in Womack Water and the next morning around 9am I was on deck unmooring the boat, and I don't remember too much else.

"I think I was under for two or three minutes, and when they pulled me out I was blue and my lips were black. I was well on the way to not making it.

You may also want to watch:

"They jumped into the river to pull me out, which was very heroic. I want to say thank you very much for my life, and being unsung heroes."

The ambulance was called in, and after paramedics gave first aid, he was flown by air ambulance to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he was treated for several days.

Mr Donaldson said: "Because I'm quite a largish chap they couldn't carry me to the road ambulance, so the air ambulance was called.

"They got me down there in what felt like seconds and were absolutely top hole.

"I was in hospital because got a bit of water on my lungs and they were feeding me lots of antibiotics. I was quite bruised up a well."

Mr Donaldson said he also wanted to thank the staff at Richardson's for their support.

He said: "All in all thanks to the people of Norfolk. What a wonderful bunch."

Mr Donaldson is now recovering at home, but still needs to return to hospital for x-rays and other checks.

Do you know who saved Mr Donaldson? Please email reporter Stuart Anderson at

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the North Norfolk News