A Cheshire firefighter has revealed he owes his life to his 13-year-old son after he gave him CPR when their kayak started to sink in freezing water.
Paul Rowlands – who used to be station manager at Ellesmere Port fire station before moving to Crewe and Congleton fire station – and his son Joe were kayaking in waters around a mile from shore in Anglesey when their vessel flipped over and the pair feared for their lives.
The 50-year-old, from Nantwich, got Joe to sit on top of the unturned kayak and tried to haul himself up next to his son.
But the vessel would not take his weight so he remained in the water and began to kick his way back to shore dragging the kayak and his son back to dry land, the Daily Post reports.
However, Mr Rowlands said that after a half hour struggle in the water he realised they had not moved.
Mr Rowlands said his only thoughts were to save his son and the moment Joe made his heartbreaking request for a final wish.
He said: “It’s at this point that I realised our only chance of survival was to leave the craft and swim to a rock that was sticking out of the sea and approximately half way between us and the shoreline, which was some half a mile away.
“I was just thinking about keeping Joe safe at that moment in time and knew we needed to rescue ourselves and quickly. Although the sea was calm that day, it was extremely cold.
“Joe said he thought we were going to die and his final wish was a kiss from me.
“Although I reassured him that we were going to be fine, the thought also crossed my mind and I literally feared for both our lives.”
The pair kissed each other and Mr Rowlands told his son he loved him very much and they set off swimming.
Due to hypothermia and exhaustion Mr Rowlands passed out several times and his last memory of the ordeal was thinking his boy was safely on a rock.
As Mr Rowlands passed in and out of consciousness jumped off the rock back into the sea to dragg his dad to the rock where he managed to haul out of the waves.
The youngster began chest compressions on his unconscious dad with water gushing from his mouth followed by mouth-to-mouth rescusitation until he came around.
Joe pleaded his dad to stay awake and together they made their way from the rock to a remote island.
They sheltered in a disused open tower previously built for shipwrecked sailors with Joe constantly talking to his dad to keep him conscious even though he was frightened, scared and extremely cold himself.
Scratched and bruised from the rocks during their ordeal, the pair huddled together to keep warm.
Meanwhile Mr Rowland’s wife, Julie Ann, had alerted the coastguard after her husband and son had failed to return at the appointed time.
A huge sea search rescue mission was sparked including Moelfre, Cemaes Bay and Penmon Coastguard Rescue Teams, Moelfre Lifeboat and the HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.
Two and a half hours after Mr Rowlands and Joe made it to the island the coastguard team arrived and brought them to safety.
The duo were taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd were they were treated for hypothermia, cuts and bruises.
Mr Rowlands said: “I would like to thank the RNLI for coming to our rescue that day. Without this resource both myself and Joe wouldn’t be here today so I can’t thank them enough. Joe also saved my life that day and was extremely courageous in a life and death situation. As a reward I bought him the phone he’d always wanted, but I know I can never really repay him for saving my life and I’m extremely proud of him.”