Italian tourists saved from sea in Somerset after calling farmacia

Oberdan Cosimi, Patrizia Castellani and Nino get to meet Pat Askwith

A pair of Italian holidaymakers cut off by the tide during a walk on the Devon coast were saved after making a desperate phone call not to the emergency services but to a local chemist.

Oberdan and Patrizia Cosimi could not think what number to dial to reach the police or coastguard so riffled through their pockets and found a Boots receipt with the telephone number of a store they had visited a few days before. They called the branch in Minehead, got through to dispenser Pat Askwith, 57, and she dialled 999 to get help for the couple, who are from Pisa.

The Cosimis and their springer spaniel Nino were airlifted to safety in a Sea King helicopter.

Askwith, who has worked at the pharmacy for 10 years, said she was delighted to help in the rescue…She said: “I received the first call at about 4.30pm. The problem was that the gentleman was on a mobile phone and they were right by the water so it kept breaking up…

“It was clear that they were really distressed. I called the coastguard and they were luckily able to track them down and help them to safety.”

The couple returned to meet Asquith at the pharmacy to thank her for her help…Oberdan said: “My wife was very scared for us and Nino, who is always with us, because of the tide and the weather. We felt fantastic when the helicopter rescued us. It was very special to meet the person who helped us – she was a lovely lady.

Bravo. The kind of aid to a stranger, a tourist – not so incidentally – I would expect someone to experience in the UK. All the years I traveled through Scotland and England by bicycle or hill-walking, friendliness, helpfulness always was the norm.

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