A BUSINESSMAN raced into the sea to save an 84-year-old from drowning after he took his first swim in 30 years.

Henry Smith was enjoying a day out with his mother, wife and two children when he spotted Lesley Clark struggling in the water by Worthing Pier.

The 37-year-old raced into the water and dragged Lesley, 84, on to the shore.  

A member of staff from Worthing Borough Council’s coastal team administered first aid on the foreshore, and Lesley regained consciousness.

However, due to the risk of secondary drowning, he was taken to Worthing Hospital by ambulance.

He was eventually released on June 21 – five days after the incident happened on June 17.

The Argus: Henry Smith (left) with Lesley Clark and his two daughters Lisa and Jane on Worthing beach Henry Smith (left) with Lesley Clark and his two daughters Lisa and Jane on Worthing beach

Henry, managing director of Worthing-based roofing firm HWS and Sons Roofing, is to receive a letter of commendation from councillor, Dr Beccy Cooper.

Cllr Cooper, who is the leader of Worthing Borough Council, will also recommend him for a Royal Humane Society honour, for individuals who put their own life at risk to save others.

Henry said: “I was sitting on the beach enjoying the sun for half an hour and ended up saving someone’s life.

“At first we thought Lesley was just enjoying himself but then it became apparent that he was really in distress, so I ran in and got him out. I wouldn’t say swimming was my strong point and he was drifting in and out of consciousness.

“I was just trying to hold him up, but he was like a dead weight. But thankfully I got him out and then someone from the Coastal Office gave him first aid.”

“It is great the council wants to thank me, but the main thing is that Lesley is safe.

“As someone who owns a local company it is just nice to be able to give something back to the community.”

Lesley had decided to go for his first swim in around 30 years but got into difficulty when he walked out over the hidden coastal shelf at high tide and was unable to regain his footing.

The Argus: Henry Smith (left) with Lesley Clark Henry Smith (left) with Lesley Clark

Lisa Liston, Lesley’s daughter, said: “Dad told me he was just going to put his feet in, but he lied and went in. He still thinks he can swim like he did 35 years ago. He needs to realise he is 84 years old.

“One of my colleagues was eating her lunch on the beach and came back and said someone had been pulled out of the water. She described him and I dashed down but he had already been taken to hospital. It was horrible, but thanks to Henry he is out of the woods. But Dad is now grounded.”

Coastal team member Jeff House was first on the scene with a medical kit and defibrillator.

Lesley was coughing up water, so Jeff checked his condition and put him in the tripod position - a physical stance for people with respiratory problems - before calling 999.

Jeff said: “Henry saved his life. If he hadn't got him out, Lesley would have drowned. People don’t float when they are drowning. His head was underwater, so he was in the process of drowning. It could have been a very different result had he not got help.”

Cllr Cooper added: “Henry saved Lesley’s life with his quick thinking and acting without fear for his own safety. We as a Council would love to honour his bravery with an official award.”