A TEACHER has been hailed a hero after he saved the life of a toddler who had fallen into a stream.
Simon Underwood, assistant headteacher at Oxford Academy, was named Everyday Hero of the Year at the St John Ambulance awards held in London on Wednesday night.
Presenting the awards were broadcaster Matthew Wright, whose life was saved when he choked in a restaurant, and former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed in March 2012 during an FA Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur and was in cardiac arrest for over an hour.
Both spoke on the night about how first aid had meant the difference between life and death for them.
Mr Underwood, 40, gave CPR to a 15-month-old boy who was found face down in a stream at a Northamptonshire holiday park.
He was arriving at Billing Aquadrome, just outside Northampton, for a camping trip when the drama unfolded.
He was pulling up outside with his family, wife Tabitha, son Finlay and daughter Islay-Mae, when he heard the distressed calls of the boy’s family.
He rushed to the scene and found the boy floating in a stream at about 7pm on August 8 last year.
Mr Underwood, who lives in Ecton, near Northampton, immediately began CPR.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail in February, he said: “He wasn’t breathing and I had learnt some CPR at my previous school where I had organised first aid courses.
“Every year, the year 10 students took their level one and two first aid qualifications and it is thanks to that I knew what to do.”
Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance and chairwoman of the awards judging panel, said: “These Everyday Heroes are an inspiration to us all. Anyone can learn first aid but not enough people do.
“Whether you download a free app or go on a two-hour course, it’s so easy to learn.
“We urge everyone to follow these lifesavers’ lead so you too can be the difference between life and death.’ Mr Underwood said: “When my name was called, I felt a real mix of emotions, but overall I just feel immensely proud.
“First aid is so important and it should be taught in every school.
“Events like this have an important part to play in raising awareness. It’s been a very humbling experience – every story is so heartwarming.”