On Saturday April 29, during the peak of this long weekend, a family on holiday got into trouble off Nature’s Valley beach. The two young kids were playing in a blow-up toy boat in the seemingly-innocuous froth between the beach and the backline.
Luckily Clifford Toop, an old-time Nature’s surfer, was keeping his beady eye on the activities as he could see that their innocent fun was heading a little too close to a rip for his comfort.
It didn’t take long for the fun to turn into a family nightmare. The kids in their toy boat were suddenly being swept out to sea. Both parents swam out to help them but within seconds they were bobbing helplessly alongside the boat and their screaming kids.
Clifford had no time to grab his surfboard, nor wetsuit, but leapt to their rescue, into the ice-cold ocean. He expertly guided all four of the family members clinging to the boat, out through the rip, to the backline.
He then, single-handedly, swam the whole lot of them out of the rip, and a considerable way at right-angles to the beach and, finally, safely back through the rocks onto terra firma.
The family collapsed into an emotional group hug on the beach, while Clifford quietly, with no fanfare or drama, resumed his place under his brollie.
Perhaps the family was struck by shock, but witnesses felt that their show of appreciation was somewhat scant - considering that Cliff had literally just saved the lives of four people.
I know that Cliff isn’t one for attention and grandiose gestures, but taking into account that this is one of many times I’m aware of him saving lives on Nature’s Valley beach, I think it’s time the Plett community recognises him as one of our true unsung heroes.
Tessa van Schaik, Plett