Plamen Petkov awarded Queen's Gallantry Medal

Image source, Petkov family
Image caption, Plamen Petkov has been praised for his "self-sacrifice and courage"

A man who drowned saving a young child from being swept out to sea off West Sussex has been posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

Plamen Petkov, from south London, died after saving a five-year-old girl off West Wittering beach, on 26 May 2012.

He rescued the child from an inflatable rubber ring and passed her to a woman but was carried away by the current.

Mr Petkov's mother, Antoaneta, has been invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the award on his behalf.

The 32-year-old, who was a British citizen of Bulgarian origin, has been widely praised for his "self-sacrifice and courage".

'True Bulgarian hero'

The British Ambassador to Bulgaria, Jonathan Allen said: "Many people were on the beach on the West Wittering on that sunny day in May, but only Plamen Petkov responded to the pleas of the distraught mother and found the inner strength to jump into the treacherous waters.

"His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the life of the little girl, but unfortunately resulted in his own demise."

He added: "Plamen Petkov's noble act moved deeply the British people and the coroner's officer that dealt with the matter attested to his bravery saying that in her five years on the job that was "the most unselfish act she had seen."

"Plamen Petkov is a true Bulgarian hero. The United Kingdom honours his heroism and his sacrifice."

In 2012 he was awarded the highest civilian Bulgarian distinction and a memorial bench and plaque was unveiled at West Wittering beach.

Mr Petkov was pronounced dead at the scene by the emergency services despite attempts by the woman to resuscitate him.

The Queen's Gallantry Medal is a civilian award for "gallantry of a high order".

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