Dog walker has lucky escape after vandals put lives at risk

Published: Fri 12 May, 2023

Lucky escape for local dog walker as council deals with vandalism to life saving equipment.

Vandals in North West Leicestershire have been putting lives at risk by stealing life rings at Hermitage Fishing Lake in Whitwick and Nature Alive in Coalville.

Last year, an incident at Hermitage Fishing Lake reinforced the importance of the rings when a man had to be rescued after going in to save his dog.

Luckily, trained open water swimmer, Tom Allen was playing football nearby and was able to rescue the man using the life rings located at the lake. Without this, the man saving his dog could have died.

Tom, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the two life rings were a massive help, both to me in getting him out and to the casualty in keeping him alive in the first place.

“People messing about and taking the life rings are putting lives in danger. They are there for a reason, to save lives. They are not for entertainment.”

Over the past year, North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) has had to retrieve hundreds of life rings from the lake which has cost taxpayers more than £3,500 to replace.

Two youngsters from a local Brownies group also identified a similar problem at Nature Alive as part of their work to get the ‘Speaking out Badge’. They recognised the dangers of vandals taking the equipment and emailed the council asking them to take action.

NWLDC has been making use of wildlife trap cameras around the sites, putting up signage to deter vandals and is working with partners to deliver sessions at local schools about the role of safety equipment.

Paul Sanders, Head of Community Services at NWLDC, said: “Life rings are there to protect and save the public when they’re in danger from drowning.

“The local resident at Hermitage Fishing Lake was incredibly lucky that Tom was nearby and was willing to put himself at risk to rescue him from the lake. 

“I hope that this incident reminds vandals to think about their actions and the impact it could have if the public rescue equipment wasn’t available in an emergency.”