'Heroic' Scots tourist saves woman from drowning in River Thames

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Media captionA Scottish woman is praised for her part in rescuing a woman who had fallen into the River

A "heroic" Scottish tourist who helped save a woman from drowning in the River Thames in London has been praised by rescue crews.

The RNLI described Natalie Harrison's response as "a risky, but utterly selfless and incredible act of public service".

The rescue team found Ms Harrison leaning over a safety barrier to grip the hand of a woman in the water.

She managed to hold on until the woman could be hauled into a lifeboat.

The incident tool place on Monday after London Coastguard received reports of a woman in the river by Bankside Pier, near Shakespeare's Globe theatre.

A lifeboat crew rushed to the scene and found Ms Harrison was keeping the casualty afloat, stopping her from drifting away in the dangerous tidal flow of the Thames.

Steve King, lifeboat helmsman at Tower RNLI lifeboat station, said the woman in the river may not have survived if it had not been for her actions.

'Cold and distressed'

He said: "We got in close and one of the staff from the Thames RIB Experience boarded the lifeboat to help us pull the woman from the river.

"If it wasn't for Natalie's heroic efforts, she may have already gone under and we might not have been able to save her."

The woman in the water, thought to be in her late 20s or early 30s, was conscious and breathing when she was pulled onto the lifeboat, but was wet, cold and distressed.

Mr King said: "As a general rule, the RNLI doesn't encourage what Natalie did - if people enter the river or sea to try to rescue others they risk getting into difficulty themselves, which exacerbates the rescue situation for emergency services.

"We normally advise people to raise the alarm and call the Coastguard.

"That said, there's no denying what she did was utterly selfless, an incredible act of public service.

"I believe she was on holiday in London and was nearby when she saw the woman in the water, and acted immediately to help.

"The woman in the river was vulnerable and me and my fellow lifeboat crew members feel Natalie's brave actions may well have saved that woman's life."

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