Sophie Knight

The floods which hit Britain in December 2000 cost the nation tens of millions of pounds in lost business and damage to homes.

 

But the freak weather conditions almost cost four-year-old Rosie Knight her life.

While out walking with her mother and older sister Sophie, she mistook the swollen River Avon for a puddle and plunged head first into the depths.

Mum Sarah was struggling on a muddy path with a buggy 10 yards away so it was novice swimmer Sophie who took it upon herself to plunge into the 6ft-deep water after her.

Sarah, 41, could only look on as both her children disappeared beneath the surface. She knew Rosie could not swim and Sophie, just seven years old at the time, was still learning.

She says: "I had taken them out to see the floods because we hadn't seen anything like it for a long time. We didn't realise how flooded Salisbury was. We were walking through a field that was quite wet and I was falling behind a bit because I was struggling with the buggy."

Sarah, who lives in the Wiltshire city adds: "I was starting to think this wasn't such a good idea so I told the girls to wait for me and stand by the door of a pub.

"Sophie did but Rosie just turned right and walked straight into the river. I think she thought it was just another puddle but it was really deep.

"Before I could move, Sophie jumped in. She just reacted and didn't stop to think about anything - I couldn't believe both of them were in there."

Eventually the pair surfaced and Robert Welfare, who was out walking his dog, pulled them to safety.

He says: "I can't recommend someone more for an award. I was thinking I was going to have to jump in, but she beat me to it."

Sophie, who celebrates her ninth birthday today, says: "I saw Rosie going in and thought 'oh my goodness - I'd better do something'. The water was freezing but I managed to grab her and we were pulled out.

"I am quite protective of her as she is very accident prone."

Sarah says: "It could have been a tragedy if the current had swept them away.

"Sophie is very mature for her age and has always been a very good big sister - being caring is in her nature.

"She is very kind and gentle and I'm sure she would do it again."

 

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