AA man honoured for saving stranded dad and his children after their car went off the road in remote Ribble Valley beauty spot
An AA patrolman has received a prestigious citation after he rescued a father and his two daughters when their car became stuck in a ditch in a remote Ribble Valley beauty spot.
Lancashire AA patrol, Robert Balfour, was awarded the honour in recognition of his selfless actions, in December last year, at the AA's annual awards evening.
AA president Edmund King, said: “AA patrols pride themselves on fixing our members first, then the car.
"Robert’s selfless actions on that December night almost certainly saved the lives of the car’s occupants."
In late December 2020, Robert was called to an AA member and his two young daughters after their car became stuck in a ditch after sliding from the road near a remote beauty spot in the Forest of Bowland.
The patrol’s local knowledge alerted him to the fact that this was to be no ordinary breakdown, due to the steep roads and freezing conditions.
Using his experience, and grit from his van, Robert stopped periodically along the way to grit the frozen road to help make it safer for the member to exit the forest once removed from the ditch.
Once he had reached the stranded family, he was alarmed to see that the member was wearing shorts, and his daughters their pyjamas, with the temperature having plunged to -4C.
Robert quickly fitted his ‘snow sock’ devices to the members car, giving vital traction and enabling it to be moved back onto the road surface. He then guided the driver down the lane until he felt confident enough to drive on.
When he walked back to his van, Robert found that the ice he had melted with the grit had re-frozen and rendered his own van stranded on the wrong side of a steep hill, and with his ‘snow socks’ still fitted to the members car.
Robert, who lives in Accrington, was attempting to free his AA van when he received another call from the AA member, saying that he had once again left the road in another remote location.
He quickly took the member’s location from a WhatsApp message and immediately relayed the members whereabouts to mountain rescue teams, who quickly found the stranded trio, and took them to safety.
By then, it was 4am, and as he had plenty of fuel, food, and drink with him, Robert took the decision to sleep in his van for the night. At sunrise, he was able to move his van to back to safety as the temperature had increased and the ice had thawed.
Mr. King added: “This incident highlights the importance of being prepared for severe weather conditions. If you need to drive in winter conditions, keeping warm clothes, food and a fully charged phone is vital and can make all the difference.”