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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
Winchman to receive bravery award
Winchman Nick Petch during the rescue [picture courtesy of Scarborough Evening News]
Winchman Nick Petch is lowered into the waves during the rescue
An RAF winchman is to receive a top bravery award in recognition of his efforts to save a family who drowned after being swept into the North Sea.

Nick Petch will be presented with the Billy Deacon Memorial Trophy by the Duke of Edinburgh on 8 May.

The winchman was repeatedly lowered into raging waters at Scarborough in a bid to rescue Kim Barrett and her two children in March 2005.

The prestigious award is named after a winchman who died during a rescue.

Deeply submerged

An RAF spokesman said Nick Petch "instantly rose to the occasion" during the rescue operation after Leeds woman Kim Barrett, 33, and her two children, Luke Greenwood, 11, and Aimee Greenwood, 13, were swept from a seafront slipway by massive waves.

He said: "Regardless of the imminent danger to his own life and without hesitation, he emphatically signalled to be lowered into the raging sea.

"Despite the ferocity of the sea, which sent spray through the helicopter's rotors 65ft (19.8m) above, Nicholas Petch managed to recover two of the victims in impossible conditions during which the waves were so fast and large that there were several occasions when he was deeply submerged in the water.

Kim Barrett and children
Kim Barrett pictured with daughter Aimee and son Luke

"With both casualties transferred to shore, the search then began for the other reported missing persons.

"During the search, several potential targets were glimpsed below the surface and Nicholas Petch, undeterred by the obvious danger, was repeatedly lowered into the icy sea and stormy waves to investigate.

"This process continued for well over an hour before the aircraft was forced to return to base for fuel."

Mr Petch was previously awarded the Air Force Cross in recognition of his bravery during the rescue attempt.

RAF man honoured over sea tragedy
09 Sep 05 |  North Yorkshire
Family sea deaths were accidents
22 Aug 05 |  North Yorkshire

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