Stars of Suffolk Awards 2014: Andrew Beal wins overall award for risking his life to save a climber who fell 300 metres in Ben Nevis

Andrew Beal Overall Winner of the Stars of Suffolk. Photograph Simon Parker

Andrew Beal Overall Winner of the Stars of Suffolk. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Andrew Beal, an experienced hill walker and climber of Trimley St Mary, won the overall Star of Suffolk award at the Stars of Suffolk Award 2014 after risking his life to rescue a fellow climber who had fallen 300 metres on to a perilous glacier in Ben Nevis.

See our picture gallery of the ceremony here.

Fearing the climber had suffered a fatal accident, the 45-year-old scaled across a snow and ice stretch in the Scottish mountain range to reach the casualty, a mountaineer in his 60s named Dave.

Mr Beal had medical supplies in his first aid kit but had to cross the snow and ice twice more to erect a makeshift flag and obtain more support before any medical assistance could reach them.

Using a newly-purchased ice axe, he secured Dave to the hillside and administered first aid, before risking his own life by returning to the pathway to obtain medical supplies and clothing from Dave’s friends.

He then returned and they waited for the mountain rescue team to arrive. Mr Beal lied on top of Dave to protect him from falling boulders caused by the rescue helicopter.

Mr Beal suffered some injuries from the falling debris before they were flown to hospital

for treatment. Both made full recoveries from the two-hour ordeal.

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Mr Beal, who works for Ipswich Borough Council and was also a joint winner of the Outstanding Bravery award, said: “It is astounding – I was not expecting to win the awards.

“I just wanted to help him and I hope someone would do the same thing for me if I was in that situation.”

Mr Beal was undertaking his 30th ascent of Ben Nevis when he came across the stricken climber.

“My immediate thought was ‘he’s dead’,” Mr Beal explained.

“He had fallen around 300 metres on to a glacier. It was not a sheer drop, but some parts of it were. But I thought I would go over and check his pulse and he started moving.

“He was slipping in and out of consciousness and I did not expect him to survive. If I had got there 30 minutes later I think he would have died. He was very lucky.”

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