A selfless young man who drowned whilst saving a five-year-old girl from being swept out to sea is being honoured in two unforgettable ways.
The bereaved family of Plamen Petkov, 32, has established a Forever by the Sea fund in his name with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the charity that saves lives at sea. It was also announced that Plamen, a Sutton resident and Bulgarian national, has been awarded the highest Bulgarian distinction for civilian acts of self-sacrifice and courage. The Honorary Decoration of St George was awarded posthumously by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria.
On Saturday 26 May 2012, Plamen jumped into the water at West Wittering, West Sussex, without a second thought after being alerted by the distraught mother of a young girl drifting out to sea on an inflatable. Seeing her rescuer, the girl jumped into his arms: he spent the following minutes trying to keep her head above water whilst struggling to stay afloat himself.
After passing the girl safely to other beachgoers, the exhausted man was dragged under the water by strong currents just yards from the shore. Beachgoers tried in vain to resuscitate him with CPR for 40 minutes, before the arrival of the air ambulance. Tragically they were unable to save his life.
Plamen’s family have spoken movingly of his sacrifice, saying: ‘We are all incredibly sad to have lost such a special person from our lives but we are also immensely proud that Plamen was able to save the life of this young child. His display of concern for others was typical of the man we all knew and the way he lived his life. Plamen always made time to help others, and as a family we have all been touched by his kindness and generosity which he displayed each day.’
Explaining their decision to support the RNLI, they added: ‘Although tragic, we are touched by the fact that Plamen’s heroic act has been so widely and internationally praised. We would like to direct the support of those who have been moved by Plamen’s bravery to the RNLI in their efforts to make Britain’s beaches safer.’
Since being established on 6 June, the fund – where visitors can donate, add a personal tribute or light a virtual candle – has already raised £410 to assist the RNLI’s vital work in saving lives at sea. Those wishing to donate can visit http://rnli.org/foreverbythesea or send a cheque with a covering note giving Plamen Petkov’s name to: RNLI, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HZ (01202 663504).
Gemma Nightingale, Tribute Funds Coordinator at the RNLI, said: ‘We are honoured that the family of Plamen Petkov have chosen to remember his life with a Forever by the Sea fund. It is a fitting tribute that this young man’s ultimate generosity of spirit will be reflected in the generosity of those who now visit the site.’
Further information on the RNLI’s beach safety work can be found at: http://rnli.org/beachsafety
RNLI media contacts
For further press information, please contact Philly Byrde, Press Officer (London, SE & East) on 07786 668825 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For out of hours enquiries you can also contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.