Surfer missing for more than 30 hours thanks 'hero' rescuers

A surfer who was pulled from the water after more than 30 hours has described his rescuers as "heroes" as he recovers in hospital.

Matthew Bryce was reported missing by his family after failing to return from a surfing trip off the Argyll coast in western Scotland.

Last seen at around 9am on Sunday in the St Catherines area, he was believed to be heading to Westport Beach near Campbeltown.

Following a large-scale air and sea search, the 22-year-old was eventually found 13 miles offshore by a rescue helicopter at around 7.30pm on Monday.

Mr Bryce, who is from Glasgow, was taken for medical treatment in Northern Ireland suffering from hypothermia.

Speaking from his hospital bed, he said: "I am so grateful that I am now receiving treatment in hospital.

"I cannot thank those enough who rescued and cared for me, they are all heroes."

Video revealed the moment he was plucked from his surfboard by a Prestwick-based Coastguard helicopter crew.

In the footage, a crewman is winched down into the water as the aircraft nears the surfer before they are both pulled back inside, leaving the board behind.

Mr Bryce was wearing a full wetsuit, which has been credited with saving his life, and had managed to stay with his board to keep him out of the water.

His cousin, Meghan Henry, said the family was relieved to hear he had been found alive "before having to spend another night in the water".

Writing on Facebook, she added: "U have one freaking amazing guardian angel cuz haha can't wait until your home with the family."
Dawn Petrie, who co-ordinated the search at Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre, said: "Hope was fading of finding the surfer safe and well after such a long period in the water and with nightfall approaching we were gravely concerned.

"But at 7.30pm the crew on the Coastguard rescue helicopter were delighted when they located the man still with his surf board and 13 miles off the coast.

"He was kitted out with all the right clothing, including a thick neoprene suit, and this must have helped him to survive for so long at sea.

"He is hypothermic but conscious and has been flown to hospital in Belfast."

Chief Inspector Paul Robertson said: "It has been a real team effort and I would like to thank everyone who offered
their assistance."

The UK Coastguard said it wanted to warn coastal users "to be prepared before you go out on the water or at the coast where conditions can change quickly".

A spokesman added: "Tell someone where you are going and take an appropriate means of raising the alarm in an emergency."

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