Royal praise for rescue of swan from frozen Galashiels loch

Local Tweedbank restaurant owner Sandy Craig has been hailed a wildlife hero this week for his attempted rescue of a young swan trapped in a frozen loch.
Sandy, 67, decided it was time to take action after the male swan had been unable to free itself from the frozen waters of Gun Knowe Loch at Tweedbank for some hours at the weekend
Local Tweedbank restaurant owner Sandy Craig has been hailed a wildlife hero this week for his attempted rescue of a young swan trapped in a frozen loch. Sandy, 67, decided it was time to take action after the male swan had been unable to free itself from the frozen waters of Gun Knowe Loch at Tweedbank for some hours at the weekend

A restaurant owner from Galashiels who rescued a swan trapped in thick ice this winter has been praised by the Queen

Buckingham Palace recently replied to a letter sent by a friend of Sandy Craig, who owns the Herges on the Loch restaurant, which described the dramatic rescue from Gun Knowe Loch, Tweedbank, in January.

Sandy, 67, waded through freezing water and cut a path through the ice, using a spade, to free the cygnet which had been stuck in the same spot overnight.

It took him more than an hour to reach the distressed animal which was eventually taken into the care of the Scottish SPCA.

The young swan unfortunately had to be put down due to the nature of its injuries.

A letter written by a lady-in-waiting at Buckingham Palace read: “The Queen wishes me to thank you for your letter in which you pay tribute to Mr Sandy Craig who recently went to the aid of a young swan that was trapped in the frozen water of Gun Knowe Loch in Tweedbank.

“Her Majesty was interested to hear of this event and to know of your appreciation of Mr Craig’s efforts.

“Like you, the Queen is fond of animals and Her Majesty was touched by the sentiments you expressed.”

In the UK, mute swans are under the protection of the Queen.

Sandy, 67, said that it was time to take action after the male swan had been unable to free itself from the frozen waters of Gun Knowe Loch for some hours.

Donning the thick thermal waders he normally uses to maintain the loch’s fountain, Sandy, co-proprietor of the adjacent Herges on the Loch restaurant, used a spade to hack his way through the thick ice towards the bird.

“The swan had been there for some time,” he said. “Someone from the RSPB came down and it seems it probably flew in from somewhere else and maybe got chased by the loch’s resident swans. I think it was a young male.”

“Its feathers had become frozen to the ice. I pulled on the thermal waders I use to maintain the loch’s fountain - I wasn’t cold because the waders come up to my chest and are of the special thermal type.

“It also wasn’t dangerous because the loch isn’t deep and I know it well. I’m always watching the loch and the birds on it. But it was quite hard going because the ice was about an inch thick in the middle.

“Ironically, as I got closer to it, at the sight of this man coming with a spade the swan started to struggle and it managed to free itself.”