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 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. They kept saying 'SOS' and telling me that they were stuck on the rocks and the tide was coming up. I wasn't sure if it was a hoax because of their accents and the bad line but then I realised that they really were in trouble. 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. Mr Cosimi said the experience in Lynton had not put him and his wife off travelling to the area. He 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. We come on holiday to England every year and Exmoor is our favourite area, so we hope to come back in the future."