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7th March 2023
An 11 year old student from Kingswinford Academy in Dudley is the pride of his school this morning after being presented with the Child of Courage accolade at the ‘Pride of Birmingham’ award last night for his heroic efforts saving a young child from drowning.
Finley Hassall took to the red carpet yesterday evening and attended the star-studded event in The Great Hall at University of Birmingham with his mum, Tara, dad, Anthony, and younger brother, Kieran, after receiving a golden envelope from Pride of Birmingham on Friday notifying him he had won the award.
While golden envelopes are typically presented to recipients by a celebrity ambassador for Pride of Britain, Finley’s mum, Tara Patel, asked if Finley’s form tutor at Kingswinford Academy, Matt Carey, could do the honors instead, as there is no-one he looks up to more.
Finley said: “I was so shocked when Mr Carey presented me with the golden envelope and told me I was being given a Pride of Birmingham award. Although I don’t really see myself as a hero, it was incredibly exciting to be recognised in this way.”
On the night, Finley was thrilled to be presented with the Child of Courage award by Harry Kirton and Steve Bull and to have his family by his side to share in his special moment.
Finley, who has weekly swimming lessons and is a member of the RNLI, was on holiday with his family in June last year when he spotted a young child in the sea at Hayle Beach get into difficulty. Without thinking, Finley rushed to help him, encouraging the boy to stay calm and to float on his back in a starfish position using advice he had read about in the RNLI’s Stormforce Magazine.
“I could see the boy was struggling so I swam straight across to him,” explains Finley. “Once he was comfortable floating on his back, I was able to flag down a lifeguard who then helped get him to safety.”
Since his heroic actions that day, Finley has been inundated with people wanting to congratulate him for his quick thinking and bravery.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing really - but nice at the same time,” says Finley. “I’ve received letters of congratulations from Prince William and Downing Street and I was invited to meet the Mayor of Dudley too. I’ve also been interviewed by the RNLI for their magazine and presented with a certificate. Getting a Pride of Birmingham award is the icing on the cake!”
Mark Carey, Finley’s form tutor, who also teaches history and is a wellbeing ambassador at Kingswinford Academy, commented: “It was a real privilege to be able to present Finley with the golden envelope and share the news with him that he’d won a Pride of Birmingham award. What Finley did on the beach that day is nothing short of utter courageousness. As his form tutor, I am incredibly proud of him and he thoroughly deserves this recognition. The world needs more Finleys in it!”
The Pride of Birmingham awards are part of the annual Pride of Britain awards and Finley will now be entered into the judging for the national ceremony, which takes place later this year.