Stowmarket teen went 'into St Johns mode' to help unresponsive swimmer
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
A 16-year-old expecting an uneventful day out swimming with her friends jumped into life saving mode to help another swimmer.
Eleanor Abbott and two friends were swimming at a pool in Colchester in August when she noticed that another swimmer wasn't resurfacing.
The teen's quick response has been recognised, including congratulations from the Princess Royal, as her actions may have saved the swimmer's life.
Eleanor said: "I just noticed that one of the other swimmers wasn't coming back up - and when I got over and turned her, I realised she was having a seizure."
Luckily, the 16-year-old from Stowmarket has been a member of St John's Ambulance for 10 years, helping administer first aid at a number of large events in Suffolk, and reacted quickly.
"I went immediately into St John's mode and started pulling her to the side of the pool, trying to stay afloat myself, and shouting for the lifeguards to help.
"We got to the edge and that's when the lifeguards helped pull her out to look after her at the side of the pool."
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Eleanor's mum, Annette, said that the rescue was unexpected - although her daughter has plenty of experience giving first aid, being able to do so while still swimming was a surprise.
"She's never been taught that and she isn't a very strong swimmer herself, but instinct just kicked in and Eleanor knew getting the girl out of the water was the priority."
Word of Eleanor's quick-thinking got around and the team at St John's honoured her with a Star of the Month award.
She was then invited to a young achiever's reception in London, where she was met and congratulated by HRH Princess Royal.
The teen lifesaver said: "I was shocked to get to go and meet her. I had to tell her what I did and she asked if I had to do it on my own. When I said I'd done a lot of it by myself she said it was amazing.
"I was also chosen as one of the cadets to give her a guard of honour when she arrived, which was cool.
"And I met a lot of people who had done things like me, some from Ipswich and others from all over the country."
Eleanor joined St John's Ambulance when she was in primary school. She took home a letter about learning first aid and told her mum she wanted to sign up.
And Annette Abbott said that agreeing to take her along to meet the Bury St Edmunds team was "the best thing I ever did" as her daughter's confidence has grown.
Eleanor suffers from dyslexia and struggles with some subjects at school, but her mum added: "This has given her so many opportunities that allow people to really see her.
"She can get a bit lost with school learning but at St John's they tell her 'you can do this' and she's as good as anyone else there when she's helping at events.
"Eleanor has done more than 50 hours of duty so far - at Remembrance Days, Suffolk Show, the Bury light switch-on - and copes with the early starts and the hours of standing out in the cold so well.
"Everyone is really proud of her and the confidence that the team has given her has played a big part."
Looking to the future, Eleanor is already planning a career in care, saying she wants to look after people.
She is currently undertaking training to be a demonstrator for St John's, which would see her teaching new starters how to give first aid.
"I really want to thank Terry, Enid, Jonathan and all the Bury team for St John's - they've really helped me.
"I think everybody should know how to do first aid just in case they are ever in a situation like I was."