A businessman’s love for animals saw him become a hero after a rescuing a newborn calf from drowning near his home in West Pinchbeck.
Alan Gardner came to the rescue after dog walker Jean Pesce alerted him and his wife Diane when she saw the calf’s mother give birth, only for it to roll down a bank and into South Forty Foot Drain on Tuesday.
Specialist firefighters responded to the drama within minutes after Alan swam to the side of the drain where the calf was in distress and held it until water rescue crews arrived.
Alan, who runs a Bourne-based industrial cleaning company with Diane, said: “I was having a bath when Jean rang my wife to say that she had just seen a calf being born by the river.
“The calf came out of its mother’s birth canal and rolled straight down the bank into the water.
“So while my wife rang the fire brigade, I put on some old clothes and drove down to the river, jumped in and swam to the calf before picking it up and holding it above water until the fire brigade got there.
Although I wasn’t very well because of a chest infection, I just thought ‘poor little thing’ and I knew that I had to save itAlan Gardner, of West Pinchbeck
“Although I wasn’t very well because of a chest infection, I just thought ‘poor little thing’.
“I knew that I had to save it.
Diane said: “Jean was in a panic at what was happening before her eyes and she just rang us to get some help as she could see that the calf was going under the water.
“She told me that she was going into the water herself because she couldn’t let the calf drown, but my husband leapt out the bath and went shooting off down there.
“I told the fire brigade that two people were about to put themselves in danger to risk saving a calf because while Alan was holding on to it, the mother was clambering down in desperation to see her newborn.
“But the bank was collapsing and the cow could have fallen on both of them.”
Firefighters used a boat to reach Alan and the calf , which was later dragged up the bank in a hammock with straps.
Jean said: “I walk my dog along South Forty Foot Drain every day and on this occasion, I saw this cow stand up and give birth.
“I thought it was a nice thing to see, but there’s a steep drop and the baby calf rolled down it when there was nobody about.
“When I rang Diane, she said ‘don’t you dare go in the water’ and shortly afterwards, Alan got in the water, lifted the calf and swam across to the other side.
“Then the fire brigade arrived to get Alan and the calf up the bank.
“It was all very exciting and it’s restored my faith in humanity.”
The calf and its mother both belong to West Pinchbeck farmer Victor Barker who rewarded Alan with a bottle of bourbon.
Alan said: “Even if I knew what the consequences would be, I’d have done it again.”