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Surfer who spent 32 hours at sea treated for hypothermia

Matthew Bryce was reported missing 24 hours after he failed to turn up for Sunday lunch.

A surfer who survived at sea for more than a day is being treated in hospital for hypothermia.

Matthew Bryce was reported missing 24 hours after he failed to turn up for Sunday lunch with his family.

He was found by a coastguard helicopter at 7.30pm on Monday, 13 miles off the coast of West Port Beach, Argyll, where he had set off at 9am the day before.

The 22-year-old, who is believed to have gotten into difficulty after suffering cramp, was airlifted to Ulster Hospital in Belfast.

'I cannot thank those enough who rescued and cared for me, they are all heroes.'
Rescued surfer Matthew Bryce

Speaking from his hospital bed Mr Bryce, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, said: "I am so grateful that I am now receiving treatment in hospital.

"I cannot thank those enough who rescued and cared for me, they are all heroes.

"I am exhausted. Please respect the privacy of myself and my family at this time as I recover."

Footage released by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on Tuesday shows the dramatic moment he was plucked from the water after a seven-hour search.

The video shows a crewman from the Prestwick-based rescue helicopter dropping into the sea as Mr Bryce paddles towards him, clinging to his surfboard.

The crewman takes hold of the 22-year-old and the winchman lifts them both out of the water, leaving his board behind.

'To get that call from the police last night to say that he was alive was unbelievable - it was better than a lottery win - you just can't describe it.'
John Bryce, father of missing surfer Matthew Bryce

Mr Bryce's father John said the 48 hours since his disappearance had been a "rollercoaster of emotions".

"To get that call from the police last night to say that he was alive was unbelievable - it was better than a lottery win - you just can't describe it," he said.

"Matthew means the world to us, he is such a strong character both mentally and physically, and we are looking forward to being reunited with him.

"We've managed to speak to him briefly on the phone and he is obviously exhausted after his ordeal, but he is in good spirits and happy to be alive.

"Our family cannot thank the Coastguard, RNLI volunteers and police officers involved in finding Matthew enough.

"I would also like to thank our friends and family as well as the hundreds of people who offered their support on social media. We have been overwhelmed by your support and good wishes and we will be forever grateful to every single one of you."

Alex Smith, maritime controller for Belfast, said: "On Monday we received a call from Police Scotland saying that a male had been reported missing.

"He had been due to meet his family for Sunday lunch and they raised the alarm 24 hours later.

"A search was launched involving three lifeboats from Scotland and Ireland, assisted by a coastguard helicopter.

"After searching for about seven hours he was found 13 miles out from where he went into the water. He's now being treated for hypothermia in hospital."

Mr Smith said anyone thinking of heading out on the water should not go alone.

'Hope was fading of finding him safe and well after such a long period in the water.'
Dawn Petrie, Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre spokeswoman

Dawn Petrie, from the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre, credited Mr Bryce's survival to being properly equipped for the conditions.

"He'd been in the water for some 30 hours when the helicopter was delighted to spot him," she said. "He was extremely lucky.

"He was wearing the right equipment, had a very thick neoprene wetsuit on and did the right thing by staying with his surfboard.

"That must have helped him to survive for so long."

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