Teenager in cliff rescue drama

Teenager in cliff rescue drama

Matthew Downie with Ben. Picture by Tom Morgan Photography.

The cliff face at Hengistbury Head. Picture by Tom Morgan Photography.

Coastguard officers prepare to abseil down the cliff. Picture by Tom Morgan Photography.

First published in News
Last updated

A TEENAGER was rescued himself, after climbing 50ft up a cliff to reach a dog which had fallen from the top.

Matthew Downie, 16, and the animal were lifted to safety by rescuers amid dramatic scenes watched by hundreds of people enjoying a scorching hot day at the seaside.

The youngster was on a family trip to Hengistbury Head, near Bournemouth, when he saw people looking up at the pet.

The dog, a four-year-old border collie called Ben, had run away from its owner at the top of the cliff and toppled over the edge, coming to rest about 50ft above the beach.

Matthew decided to scale the cliff in a bid to rescue the dog but when his stepfather Chris George, who works for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, saw what was going on he advised him to stay put and wait for professional help.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service’s rope and animal rescue team, the coastguard and a fire crew from Christchurch joined forces to rescue the teenager and the dog.

They lowered a harness to Matthew, who was then abseiled to the beach. They used a bag suspended from a rope to lift Ben to safety.

Ben’s owner Anthony Lowe, from Bournemouth, said he had been on a trip to the seaside with his two daughters when the dog disappeared.

He paid tribute to Matthew’s bravery.

“We went down to the seafront to see if there was anything we could do from down there,” he said.

“Matthew very bravely ran and climbed up the cliff to comfort Ben.”

He said the dog was none the worse for his ordeal but added: “I think we’re going to get his ears tested and find out why he doesn’t listen.”

Matthew’s mum Joanne Chilton, who heard about the episode by phone, said: “The crowd were clapping and cheering when he got down but I think he did get a bit of a telling off.”

Matthew, from Chandler’s Ford, said: “I wasn’t going to walk away knowing that I could have done something.”

A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said the incident had ended happily but warned people not to put themselves in danger when rescuing animals

Comments (4)

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3:59pm Mon 8 Jul 13

Dresnez says...

I can see from his actions, Matthew has some very fine personal qualities.

Brave and altruistic. He assessed the risks, and knew his capabilities and was not prepared to look away when he felt he could help.

Glad they got the professional help to get them down though, which would have been a very dangerous manoeuvre with the dog.

His actions helped keep the dog calm until help arrived.

We don't want people risking their lives for pets I agree.

But boys will be boys so we mustn't be too hard on him. He acted with the very best of intentions.

Thankfully all's well that ends well.
I can see from his actions, Matthew has some very fine personal qualities. Brave and altruistic. He assessed the risks, and knew his capabilities and was not prepared to look away when he felt he could help. Glad they got the professional help to get them down though, which would have been a very dangerous manoeuvre with the dog. His actions helped keep the dog calm until help arrived. We don't want people risking their lives for pets I agree. But boys will be boys so we mustn't be too hard on him. He acted with the very best of intentions. Thankfully all's well that ends well. Dresnez
  • Score: 0

4:02pm Mon 8 Jul 13

linstrand says...

Well done Matthew Heart in right place
Well done Matthew Heart in right place linstrand
  • Score: 0

8:42pm Mon 8 Jul 13

sparkster says...

well done Matthew anyone who loves their pet would help them, good on you
well done Matthew anyone who loves their pet would help them, good on you sparkster
  • Score: 0

10:23pm Mon 8 Jul 13

localnews says...

sparkster wrote:
well done Matthew anyone who loves their pet would help them, good on you
Except that this wasn't his pet
[quote][p][bold]sparkster[/bold] wrote: well done Matthew anyone who loves their pet would help them, good on you[/p][/quote]Except that this wasn't his pet localnews
  • Score: 0

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