THE mum of a boy who jumped into Dunbar Harbour to try to save his friend after she was swept into the water by a wave has thanked a fisherman who pulled the pair to safety.
Donna Nairn said she “could be arranging funerals” if it weren’t for the actions of James Bisset, who rushed to the aid of the youngsters.
Samuel Nairn and Daniella Calisto had been visiting the harbour last Wednesday evening.
Daniella, 13, was sitting on the rocks near Dunbar Battery when a wave swept her into the water, with Samuel bravely jumping in to try to save her.
But after he got into difficulty himself, Mr Bisset arrived on the scene and helped them both to safety.
Donna told the Courier: “He pulled them both out of the water.
“They could not get up off of the rocks.
“If it was not for him, the situation could have been so different. I could be arranging funerals at this moment if it was not for him getting them both out.”
The incident took place between 6pm and 7pm last Wednesday, with Samuel and Daniella, going to the harbour with a group of friends.
Donna said that Samuel had jumped into the water to try to rescue his friend and managed to get her back to the rocks.
However, in doing so, he also injured his wrist and will have to go back to hospital later this month to see if it is fractured.
She explained that she had a mixture of emotions when her son came home and said: “I was proud, emotional, scared, overall scared for what could have happened.
“But, at the same time, I was proud for him to be brave enough to do such a thing.
“He is a strong swimmer and I taught them to swim in the sea – if you are going to live by the sea, you have got to learn to swim in the sea.”
Daniella had scratches on her body and was in pain but was otherwise uninjured.
Her dad, Victor, said: “I’m very grateful to the fisherman and for my daughter’s friend, who jumped in to try to save my daughter.
“I know my wife has been to Sam’s house to say thank you to the boy and sent James a message but we are very, very grateful.
“She is my only daughter – I cannot go to the shop and get another one.”
Mr Bisset, who lives in the town, was attending a meeting with Dunbar Harbour Trust when he heard the shouts for help.
The 56-year-old, who has been fishing in the town for about 40 years, was quick to downplay his actions and said: “I just saved a couple of bairns, that’s all.”
Mr Bisset was previously a member of the town’s lifeboat crew and said they could have been in “big trouble” if no one had been there at the time.
Quentin Dimmer, harbourmaster at Dunbar Harbour, praised Mr Bisset’s efforts and encouraged people to keep safe around the harbour.
He said: “James is very modest and would not want any attention but I think it’s important to recognise what he’s done and to use this incident to highlight the potential dangers of the sea and coastline.
“Especially at this time, with a huge increase in local tourism, it’s important to increase people’s coastal safety awareness.
“The beaches and coasts are a great place to come and enjoy but we would ask people to be smart, check the weather, the swell and the tides.
“If anyone gets into difficulty or sees anyone in trouble, don’t hesitate, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Paul McLennan, East Lothian’s MSP and a councillor for the Dunbar and East Linton ward, described Mr Bisset as being “at the heart of our community”.
He told the Courier: “I was shocked to hear about the incident at Dunbar Harbour last week.
“In recent years there has been a real effort to transform the harbour into the beauty spot that we enjoy today. Just recently, the Battery was recognised at the European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention.
“Beauty aside, however, there are safety issues that I am aware of.
“Sadly this incident serves as a reminder to us all of the dangers of the harbour.
“I have known James Bisset for a very long time.
“A lifelong fisherman, James has long been at the heart of our community.
“It is no surprise to me he did what he could to help and saved the day.
“I’m glad the outcome was a positive one.
“I would urge everyone visiting the harbour to be careful and I hope the children involved and their families have recovered from this frightening experience.”