Diver receives bravery award at Buckingham Palace
A diver who rescued his stricken buddy at an inland dive site has received one of the UK’s highest civilian awards for bravery in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Steven Barnard, 30, from Brynsiencyn, Anglesey - a regular within these pages with his British Sea Life series and this month’s Hurghada technical article - was presented with a Royal Humane Society silver medal after his rescue of friend David Hartley at Dorothea Quarry in Gwynedd last December.
Dorothea has claimed the lives of several divers over the years, and this particular dive started to go wrong just six minutes in when, some 36m down, Hartley began plunging head first into the depths.
Barnard signalled to the third member of the team to remain where he was, then chased after Hartley and caught him.
Hartley, from Bangor, Gwynedd, began convulsing. The pair were still descending when he inadvertently punched Barnard, dislodging his mask. They became separated at a depth of more than 50m, after some 25 minutes in the water, but Barnard delved into the silt cloud, found his buddy and managed to get him back to the surface.
Following a tow to the side of the quarry, Hartley made a complete recovery after being airlifted to a decompression unit by RAF helicopter.
Barnard was presented with his honour by the society's president, Princess Alexandra. After the presentation, he said: "I was just glad we got a positive outcome. It was a situation which needed something pretty drastic doing quickly and I am very, very happy it came out the way it did."
Shaking Barnard's hand at the event, Hartley said: "If it had been anyone else, I doubt I would have survived. He was brilliant. He refused to give up on me despite the risk to himself. If ever anyone deserved a medal he does."
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