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  1. ITV Report

Missing surfer found alive after 32 hours at sea shares the life-saving lessons he has learned

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Surfer Matthew Bryce survived 32 hours in the water after being found in fading light 13 miles from the Scottish shoreline by rescuers who were almost about to abandon their search.

Here the 23-year-old writes exclusively for ITV News about going back to the spot on the Argyll coast where he was pulled out to sea and the lessons all surfers must learn to stay alive.

The reason I wanted to return to Campbeltown today was ultimately to say thank you. Without the RNLI and coastguard teams there I simply would not be alive today.

Without any question they are heroes and I would like my visit to highlight that fact. Not only because of their actions on that day, but due to the fact that this is a daily part of their lives. Lives that they volunteer. They volunteer and sacrifice their safety without looking for any thanks or recognition. To help people.

Matthew had not been seen since 9am on April 30. Credit: Maritime & Coastguard Agency

As someone who without a doubt would now be dead without them, I would like to offer my thanks and hope that my visit today will help allow some of that much deserved recognition to be pointed their way.

Today the teams there were incredibly welcoming. They invited me for tea and shared some of their stories from that day. Speaking with them brought the fact home that they had helped search for me and were now just happy to see me. Just as I was happy to see them.

Matthew was suffering from hypothermia after being found at 7.30pm on May 1. Credit: Maritime & Coastguard Agency

The level of gratitude and love I have for them I really don't think I can justify with words. From the bottom of my heart.

Thank you.

And to anyone else considering going surfing - please, see my story not as a horror, but one that could learned from.

Despite having the correct equipment - a 5mm thickness wetsuit, with a 2mm thickness torso vest, along with gloves, hood and boots - there were other things I could have done to prevent this escalating to the point it did:

  • Do not go surfing alone.

It was unnecessary risk. If I had been surfing with another person, or ideally a group, the coastguard would have been notified much earlier that I was in trouble.

Surfing with another person is vital for raising the alarm if things go wrong. Credit: PA
  • Have an agreed time when you will be out of the water and that you will contact either a family or friend who is on dry land.

This is a useful measure as it helps in case something is happening to your group.

Make sure the person you're contacting knows where you are going surfing and expect to be back on dry land.

If you want to go back in afterwards just message them saying so.

  • Purchase a personal GPS tracker.

Although they can be pricey at first glance, when you consider the price of both a board and wetsuit it isn't that much more.

And it's worth it if you imagine two hours in the water before being rescued as opposed to two days. I know what I would choose.

I would suggest this for non-surfers doing other water sports as well.

Stay with your board rather than tiring in an attempt to swim to land in wet suit. Credit: PA
  • If things do however start to go wrong STAY WITH YOUR BOARD!

The first day in the water I was extremely tempted to abandon my surfboard and try to swim for land.

Swimming in a wetsuit is not only extremely ineffective but also very tiring. Had I abandoned my board I would have drowned in a few hours max.

A surfboard is colourful and large and much easier for the coastguard or lifeboats to spot.

It allows you to stay partially out of the water and saves you energy in terms of trying to stay afloat. My board saved my life.

  • David Cox, from the RNLI, has some tips for people who are planning to go into the water this summer

I'm now on the road to recovery and I want to make this story something that can produce something constructive.

This entire experience has taught me that life is fragile. It should be something that should be embraced and not taken for granted.

And if this story can help save a life, either via someone taking the correct precautions when going out to sea or via the RNLI receiving much needed donations, I believe this overall will become a good and beneficial experience of my life.

Matthew hopes his near-death experience can help others. Credit: ITV News