Daily Record, 08/05/1998, p17

A woman refused to leave her car as it sank in icy water – because she
didn’t want to leave her handbag behind.
Eileen Townsend, 53, plunged into the Forth and Clyde canal after her
car stuck in reverse.
Brave student Andrew Penman dived into the water and tried to drag
Eileen out.
But she refused to leave the car without her bag because it contained
her house keys and she was worried nobody would get in to feed her
As she recovered at her home in Bo’ness, West Lothian, last night,
Eileen said: “My biggest fear was not for myself but for my dogs at
home, which is why I did not want to let go of my handbag.
“It might seem silly but they might have been left without anyone to
fend for them.”
Married Eileen plunged into the canal at Central Auctions in Falkirk on
Andrew, 20, whose father owns the auction centre, had been loading a
van with 23- year-old worker Kevin Quinn. They raced to the canal and
saw the car sinking.
As Kevin ran to raise the alarm, Andrew dived in and tried to pull
Eileen clear. But she refused to leave without her bag.
A passing AA patrolman pulled over and threw a rope into the water.
Andrew managed to attach the bag to the rope and it was hauled to the
canal bank.
He then eased Eileen out of the car, before pulling her to safety.
Eileen, who is suffering from delayed shock, said: “I owe my life to
Andrew. He was very brave.
“I hope once I have regained my fitness I will be able to meet him and
will obviously be doing something to reward him.”
But Andrew, a second year economics and social history student at
Glasgow University, played down his bravery.
He said: “We couldn’t just stand by and knew we had to do something. To
be honest, it was hard to believe it was happening.
“I just took my keys out of my pockets and jumped in.”
A police spokesman confirmed Andrew, who lives at the family’s home in
Gleneagles, Perthshire, would be recommended for a meritorious conduct
Eileen’s car will be lifted from the canal by a police recovery team on


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