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Woman whose mother was saved from drowning in 1953 tracks down rescuer on Liveline

“You saved my mother,” Mary Thompstone told John Eldred on Joe Duffy’s RTÉ Radio One show this afternoon.

John Eldred (left) and Anastasia Thompstone.
John Eldred (left) and Anastasia Thompstone.
Image: Liveline

A WOMAN WHO reached out to Joe Duffy on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline programme was today given the chance to speak to the man who rescued her mother’s life almost 70 years ago.

Mary Thompstone spoke to the show last Friday in an attempt to find the man who saved her mother Anastasia from drowning in 1953.

Anastasia got into difficulty while swimming but a man swam out to save her and return her to shore.

She went on to get married and have five children. She died in 2016, aged 87 and said she always wanted to meet the man who saved her life and she prayed for him every day. 

When Duffy introduced her rescuer on the show, Mary said: “Oh my god. No way. That is unreal.”

John Eldred, who’s now 84 and living in the UK, told Joe Duffy today he was just 17 at the time he rescued Anastasia.

“I was fascinated with your account of the story,” he said of Mary’s story on Friday.

“Do you remember the story?” she asked.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he replied.

I was on holiday with my parents in a hotel in Ireland. We were sitting in my parents’ bedroom, having a chat when there was quite a commotion outside. There was a girl who was very distressed, she was shouting for help and saying her sister was drowning. 
So my father said ‘quick run down to the beach and see what you could do’. There was nobody there, just three chaps. They saw me coming… I could see there was someone out to sea. She was throwing up her arms and shouting. These lads said ‘can you swim?’. I said yes. They said ‘can you save her?’. I said yes.

John described Anastasia as being “cool, calm and collected”, and said she told him a number of times to save himself while they made their way back to land.

He recalled stripping down to his underwear before going into water and them falling off while he was returning to the shore, earning himself a rebuke from his own mother.

John described going to a pub later that day and a number of locals shaking his hand to thank him for his actions.

Mary told him: “You saved my mother John… you gave life, she went on to have five children, you saved her life.

I just want to tell you how much we appreciate you and what you did.

John said: “I feel honoured to have that opportunity. I was fit. I could do the job. I was in the right place.”

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Sean Murray

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