‘We don’t need another hero’ - Fairlands Valley staff spell out warning after foiling owner’s attempt to rescue dog from freezing water

Fairlands Valley Park in winter conditions.

Fairlands Valley Park in winter conditions. - Credit: Archant

Don’t try to be a hero! That’s the message from staff at Stevenage’s Fairlands Valley Park after they leapt into action to rescue a dog from the frozen lake and stopped its owner from going in after it.

Ice warning signs at Fairlands Valley Park

Ice warning signs at Fairlands Valley Park - Credit: Archant

The main lake at Fairlands Valley Park was half frozen over because of the icy weather last Thursday when a jogger dashed into the reception area at Fairlands Valley Sailing Centre and told staff a dog was in the water and a man was about to to rescue it.

Sailing centre manager Gavin Davis quickly mobilised two of his senior sailing instructors John Sutton and Charlie Irving to go to their aid.

John jumped into the centre’s Land Rover and drove round the lake to warn the would-be rescuer not to risk his life by wading into the three metre lake.

Gavin and Charlie meanwhile guided a rescue boat across the icy water, before pulling the freezing dog to safety.

Gavin told the Comet: “The dog was a small terrier. It had fallen into the water through, or off, the ice and was struggling to get out – and he was beginning to run out of energy.

“We wouldn’t have wanted to pull somebody else out as well. If somebody goes into cold water with ice on the top they will undoubtedly suffer from shock and hypothermia.

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“I don’t think the dog could have lasted much longer.

“The message I would like to get across is please people keep their dogs on leads. Also if your dog does go into the water, we don’t want heroes – so call 999 straight away.”

Gavin said he has worked at the lake for many years and has seen dogs and children fall in, but that these incidents have so far always had a happy ending.

Stevenage borough councillors have praised the actions of the team of brave rescuers.

Councillor Richard Henry, the council’s executive member for leisure, said: “A high percentage of frozen water deaths are caused by people attempting to rescue their dogs so I would like to say a massive thank you to the team at Fairlands Valley for their quick thinking and prompt response.

“This highlights the importance of keeping dogs under control at Fairlands, and the need to put them on a lead especially when walking by open water as it is so easy for them to be become distracted and run off.”

The sailing centre is managed by Stevenage Leisure Ltd in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council.

To find out more about the activities and courses on offer, visit sll.co.uk/saxon/Fairlands

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