4:00pm Thursday 14th June 2012
By Hannah Green
SHOP staff in Minehead unexpectedly came to the rescue of two Italian holidaymakers caught out by the tide last week.
Oberdan Cosimi, Patrizia Castellani and their dog Nino became stranded by the tide on the beach at the bottom of Countisbury Hill, Lynton, but did not know the 999 emergency phone number.
Having been shopping in Minehead earlier, the only English number they had was on the back of a Boots receipt, so they called the store from their mobile and asked for help.
Pharmacy dispenser Pat Askwith answered and dialled 999, with Swansea Coastguards requesting an RAF Sea King helicopter from Chivenor, which airlifted the couple and their springer spaniel Nino to safety at the top of the cliff.
Pat said: “It was really hard to understand with the language barrier and the bad signal.
"They said it was an SOS, that they were stuck on the rocks and the tide was coming up.
"At first I wondered if it was a hoax, but I could hear the distress in their voices.
“They came back to Boots a couple of times to say thank you, but it was my day off, so it was really lovely when they came in on Saturday. I am so glad we got to meet them.”
The couple, from Pisa in Tuscany, had left the area but returned because they were so eager to show their appreciation to Pat in person.
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.
“We tried for some time to see Pat to say thank you and it was very special on Saturday to meet the person who helped us - she was a lovely lady.
“We come on holiday to England every year and Exmoor is our favourite area, so we hope to come back in the future.”
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