A County Durham schoolboy who saved another youngster from drowning has been awarded the Chairman’s Medal, the county’s highest honour. 

While on holiday, Blake Stephenson pulled a French boy from the bottom of a swimming pool and dragged him to the pool’s side.

Blake’s mother and another member of the public then performed CPR on the boy until the emergency services arrived. 

Though the boy had to be placed in a medically induced coma, he later made a full recovery.

Blake Stephenson
Blake Stephenson with Cllr Kellett

Blake was presented with the Chairman’s Medal in a ceremony at Kirk Merrington Primary School by Cllr Bill Kellett, the chairman of Durham County Council.  

Also in attendance were Schools Aquatic Development Manager David Bullen, a representative from the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and Blake’s headteacher Nicola Murray. 

Blake now ranks as the youngest ever person to receive the prestigious award, even younger than gymnast Amy Tinkler who received the Chairman’s Medal last year. 

Blake was also presented with a Royal Life Saving Society Commendation and 125th anniversary badge.

After the ceremony, Blake said, “I feel very excited – I didn’t think I would get an award and I didn’t realise how special they are.” 

“A lot of people have come to see me. My sister is very grumpy that I’m getting all this attention!” 

Blake Stephenson 2
Blake with Cllr Kellett and his parents

Blake learned his lifesaving skills as part of his National Curriculum swimming lessons. During these lessons, pupils learn about the dangers of being in and around water as well as rescue techniques and how to summon help.

Pupils also learn about water safety as part of the RLSS’s Drowning Prevention Week and Durham County Council’s Dying to Be Cool campaign, which raises awareness of the dangers of cold water shock. 

A separate initiative has been launched to try to stop Durham University students falling into water after nights out. 

Cllr Kellett said, “Blake’s quick thinking and heroic actions saved a young person’s life and highlight the importance of learning vital lifesaving skills and how to act in an emergency.”

“I am delighted to be able to present him with this medal, one of our most prestigious civic honours.”  

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