Cliff top air rescue for mum and son

Kate and Sam Ormsby been rescued after getting stuck on a cliff.
Kate and Sam Ormsby been rescued after getting stuck on a cliff.

A mother has spoken of the terrifying moment her daredevil son was at the centre of a helicopter rescue after he scaled a 39-foot cliff.

Kate Ormsby and her family, who live in Hebden Bridge, were holidaying in South Brent, near Dartmoor National Park, Devon, when disaster struck.

Kate and Sam Ormsby

Kate and Sam Ormsby

As they were enjoying a walk on Westcombe Beach last Saturday, nine-year-old climbing enthusiast Sam Ormsby ran ahead and managed to scale the huge cliff.

But 12 metres up, there was no way for Sam, a pupil at Hebden Royd Primary School, to get back down to the beach.

After realising what had happened, Ms Ormsby, 39, tried to climb up to help her son but also became stuck, leaving the pair stranded on a sloping ledge for two-and-a-half hours.

Ms Ormsby, who works as a human rights lawyer, said: “My mum and daughter went around the corner and heard Sam shouting ‘help’.

“They looked around and couldn’t see him anywhere, but they then saw him right on this ledge. My husband and I were just coming back to the beach when they came running round to get us. Out of instinct I started to climb.

“Looking back it was a crazy thing to do, there was a big overhang near the top and I got most of the way up and then got stuck.

“I managed to get up the last bit to him. We were sitting on this ledge, it was slippy and I was clinging on to him and the rock. I knew we were never going to get down, but I was so relieved to be with him.

“I felt I had made a mistake to try and reach him, but you don’t stop to think.

“Sam couldn’t have managed that on his own for two-and-a-half hours. I was trying to distract him by playing I-Spy and I didn’t want him to see that I was frightened.”

Meanwhile, people on the beach tried to get a phone signal to raise the alarm, but Ms Ormsby’s husband, Rich, had to run a mile to the car and knock on someone’s door to use their phone.

The coast guard arrived and the rescue operation got underway, with mum and son escaping unharmed.

“The second they saw us, they said ‘it’s a helicopter job’. They were fantastic and we were rescued by a naval officer who was lowered from a Sea King helicopter flown in from Cornwall. We are so grateful to them all.”