When Captain Lucy Russell spent a day at the beach with her family last summer, little did she realise that she would save two swimmers from drowning. For her brave actions, she is being awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery (QCB) in the latest Awards List.
You don’t really think about that when you’re swimming. You know what you’ve got to do, and you just do it Captain Russell
Off-duty at the time of the incident at Lepe Beach, Southampton, Capt Russell was quick to respond to the swimmers’ plight. Her citation says: ‘Her quick thinking and brave actions saved the lives of two swimmers who were in difficulty in the sea having been caught in the strong currents and stranded some distance from the coast’.
When she learned she was being given the non-operational QCB, she said: “It took me completely by surprise. I forgot about the event and then it was a complete surprise when my Commanding Officer told me, so I was really taken aback by it. It’s nice to be recognised but I was a little bit embarrassed, too.”
Recalling the incident Capt Russell said: “I was chilling on the beach with my family. I was standing in the sea and my wife was taking a photo, and at that point I could hear something and wasn’t too sure what it was.
“When I turned around, I could see two little black dots in the distance and that’s when I realised there were a couple of people in trouble. At that point I said to my wife, I guess I’m going swimming, kicked of my flip flops and then went out to the people in trouble.”
According to her citation, she issued instructions to the male swimmer to enable him stay safe until rescued, while she attended to the weaker female swimmer who was distressed, dragging her back to the shore.
Capt Russell, who lives in Hythe, Hampshire, with her wife and two children, said: “Before I joined the Army, I was a lifeguard, so I am a confident swimmer, and I had no worries about actually going into the sea.
“It was a strong current, but I wasn’t really phased by it. You don’t really think about that when you’re swimming. You know what you’ve got to do, and you just do it.
Capt Russell, 42, of the Royal Logistic Corps, is 2IC (Second in Command of) 73 Training Squadron, Logistic Specialist Training Wing (LSTW) at Marchwood. She has been in the Army for more than 21 years and has three operational deployments under her belt.
Before commissioning in 2019, Capt Russell was the Regimental Sergeant Major at 29 Regiment RLC. She spent a large part of her Army career training other troops, namely at Army Training Regiment (ATR) Pirbright and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).
Read the full list here