A TEACHER has been labelled a hero after he saved the life of a toddler who had fallen into a stream.
Simon Underwood, an assistant headteacher at Oxford Academy, has been named as a finalist in the Everyday Heroes of the Year category of the St John Ambulance awards.
Mr Underwood, 40, was arriving at Billing Aquadrome holiday park for a camping trip just outside Northampton when the drama unfolded.
He was pulling up outside with his family, wife Tabitha, son Finlay and daughter Islay-Mae, when he heard the distressed calls of the boy’s family.
Knowing something terrible was happening, he rushed to the scene and found the 15-month-old boy floating in a stream at about 7pm on August 8 last year.
Mr Underwood, from Ecton in Northamptonshire, immediately began CPR.
He said: “He wasn’t breathing and I had learnt some CPR at my previous school where I had organised first aid courses.
“Every year, the year 10 students took their level one and two first aid qualifications and it is thanks to that I knew what to do.
“I really hope this highlights how important these skills are.
“At the same time, it was both the most terrifying and rewarding experience of my life.”
The toddler was rushed to hospital in Northampton and kept in intensive care, where it is understood he went on to make a full recovery.
Mr Underwood, whose children are now aged four and two and a half, does not know who the little boy is.
He said: “It was obviously a really difficult time for the family but it has been hard for me as I don’t know how he is now.
“I was very upset after it happened and since then I have had flashbacks to it, but on those occasions it has been of my children instead of him.
“It is very hard as a parent to go through that.”
St John Ambulance chief executive Sue Killen said: “This year’s finalists have some truly remarkable stories to tell. It’s wonderful to be able to recognise the everyday heroes who are saving lives and encouraging others to do the same.
“I hope they inspire others to learn first aid so they, too, can be the difference between life and death.
“We can’t wait to welcome these deserving nominees on the evening and show our appreciation for their selfless efforts.”
St John Ambulance is still trying to trace the family of the little boy. If you know who they are, contact our newsdesk on 01865 425444 or call Gemma Taylor on 01246 200272.
Mr Underwood is up against four others from across the country at a ceremony on March 26 which will be presented by TV’s Tess Daly.
For more information, see sja.org.uk/everydayheroes