A hero lifeboat volunteer risked life and limb to dive into the freezing Channel – to save a drowning dog.
Mark Nightingale, 50, jumped into the choppy waves after poor pup Ruby became stranded on a piece of beach 30 metres out to sea.
The brave volunteer, who joined the RNLI in 1998, was walking his Labrador-Springer cross Ted when his pager went off and rushed to the lifeboat station.
But when the Brighton Marina crew arrived at the scene in Peacehaven, East Sussex, they discovered Ruby was stuck on the rocks, which were too dangerous to approach.
Courageous Mark, who works as a graphic designer, leapt off the boat, and made his way to the stranded dog, before mounting a scary rescue.
He said: “It was about 8am on Sunday morning and I was about to walk my dog Ted when my pager went off.
“I went to the lifeboat station, got kitted up and we launched the boat.
“We knew there was a dog in the water and there was a concern that her owner would go in after her.
“We arrived at Peacehaven and there was a coastguard unit on the scene already, with a few people on the end of the promenade.
“They told us that Ruby was on a beach which had been cut off by the rising tide, about 30 metres out to sea.
“It was too rocky to get the boat ashore, so we decided it was best that I swam in with our dog catching device.
“I swam over, climbed over the rocks and found her – she was obviously cold and a bit scared, but she was friendly and came over to me straight away.
“I led her over the rocks to make our way to the steps, but there was about a metre of swell.”
Dog-lover Mark and shivering Ruby were knocked over by the choppy waves, and it was too dangerous for them to climb back towards the shore.
So the intrepid volunteer and the pup swam back to the boat, which was waiting for them 30 metres away.
Another crew member joined them in the water, before winching them onto the boat and giving Ruby and Mark a warm blanket.
The team then headed back to Newhaven lifeboat station, where dog and owner were reunited.
Mark added: “I haven’t rescued a dog before, but I’ve been on the lifeboat for a quite a while and we’ve had fatalities from people going into the sea after their dogs.
“It happens a lot where a pet gets out but their owner doesn’t so Ruby’s owner did the right thing by calling us.”
Brighton RNLI tweeted: “Early morning launch to recover a dog at Peacehaven in the water.
“Reunited to a happy owner at Newhaven.
“Owner followed correct advice and rang 999 and asked for Coastguard.
“Ruby was our first shout for 2018.
“She’s back with Dad, warmed and probably sleeping off her experience.”