A BRAVE father who leapt into the sea to rescue two young boys while holidaying in Cornwall has been awarded for his heroics.

Simon Hill, from Wimborne, was staying in Bude on a family holiday in September 2012, when he went to the rescue of the brothers.

He managed to get them both to safety but, sadly, their mother drowned in the drama.

Speaking about the presentation of the Royal Humane Society’s Vellum Award, Mr Hill said: “I was obviously very proud to receive it, but the ceremony was a day of very mixed emotions and tinged with sadness.”

The father-of-three was walking along a deserted cliff top at Northcott Mouth Beach with his family when he was alerted to the fact the woman and her two sons were in difficulty. He immediately jumped into the sea to help.

After helping save the boys, aged 11 and 13, he assisted lifeguards to bring the woman’s body ashore, but she could not be revived.

Following the drama, which left Mr Hill hospitalised with water on his lungs, he said: “You don’t give it a thought at the time, it’s just human nature.

“It could have been my wife and children out there. I had to get in there and get to who was closest to me first, which was one of the boys 100 yards out.

“The woman was face down when I got to her. Thankfully, the boys are still alive.”

He was presented with his award by the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police at a ceremony in Cornwall on Friday.

Mr Hill said: “I would, once again, like to pay tribute to the RNLI, who helped retrieve the lady from the water and also saved my life, as I almost died out there as well.”

The woman and her children had been caught in a rip tide after the boys got into difficulty while body boarding.

n The Royal Humane Society’s Vellum Award is given when someone has ‘put themselves in considerable danger to save, or attempt to save, someone else’.

Each one is signed by the society’s president HRH Princess Alexandra.