Dunstable teenager wins Young Hero award after saving children from sea

A teenager from Dunstable, who rescued four children from the sea, has won the Young Hero Award at the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards 2019.

Thomas Fantini, 16, was in Winchelsea, Sussex, in August when he heard someone screaming in the sea. He went to help and found a boy struggling to swim.

Thomas Fantini won the Young Hero award. Photo by Joanna Cross Photography

Thomas Fantini won the Young Hero award. Photo by Joanna Cross Photography

He said: “We were on holiday and we went down to the beach. I was in the sea and that day the waves were really difficult. I was struggling to swim back to shore at times.

“I heard screaming and wasn’t sure what it was. I swam to where the noise was coming from and I saw a little child struggling in the water.

“I swam towards him and grabbed him. He had three siblings with him, I had him on one arm and swam to his sister and then got her and then swam to the other two.

“I had one on my back, one on my arm and held the other two with my hands, I got back to the shore and the lifeguard helped me with them Their mum was by the edge of the beach.

“They were about 20 metres out in the sea and they were struggling, I would say there were all under seven.”

The Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards, held earlier this month, give businesses the chance to celebrate success.

The community part of the awards have been designed to celebrate the achievements of people from the local area, aiming to celebrate and bring people together.

Thomas is a strong swimmer and swims for Dunstable Swimming Club.

The Central Bedfordshire College student added: “It was brilliant to win the award. I was very shocked, I didn’t expect it at all. I just tried to help some children that were in trouble.”

Debbie, Thomas’s mum, said: “It’s amazing. I am so proud of him, he doesn’t understand why it is such a big deal, he doesn’t realise what he has done.

"He says he just heard the screams and went to help. He is a swimmer and does swim competitively, so to him it was natural to swim out and help them.”

Organiser Vicki Stonham, Networking At Dunstable, said: “It was an honour to award Thomas the Young Hero of the Year of 2019.

"He was overwhelmed on the night and got a standing ovation from all in the room.

"A truly remarkable young man, who is a great role model to his generation and was so happy and grateful to receive the award.”