A YOUNG couple found themselves at the centre of a dramatic rescue operation when an elderly woman fell down a ravine and landed face-down in a stream, with a broken leg.

Emily Neal and Mathew Feltoe were walking through the Castle Eden Dene, at Peterlee, yesterday when they heard a scream and spotted two ladies trying to reach their friend who was injured and lying in the burn.

Miss Neal scrambled down the embankment and stayed in the stream for an hour, using her own body to keep the injured 84-year-old woman out of the water, until the emergency services and mountain rescue volunteers arrived.

The woman was given pain relief and first aid at the scene before she was stretchered to an ambulance and taken to hospital, where it is understood she underwent surgery last night.

The Northern Echo:

Footballer Miss Neal, who plays for Hartlepool United WFC and is the granddaughter of former Middlesbrough and Chelsea manager John Neal, said: “We ran over to them to help.

"I got down to help the lady while Mathew stayed up the top to get a phone signal and contacted the emergency services and found a park warden to open the gates and bring them to us.

“I could see the lady’s leg was definitely not the way it should be and she was adamant it was broken because she was in more pain than when she’d broken the other one previously.

“I helped her friends down and we just talked to her and I kept her out of the water until more help arrived.

“She was as well as she could be but was starting to get cold, we all took our coats off and wrapped her up in them.

"I had to wedge myself underneath her body to keep her out without moving her leg, in case it hit the main artery and made things worse.

“Her friends said she had fallen head-first and near enough somersaulted and landed in the stream.”The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

Nine members of Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team and an ambulance crew and Hazardous Area Response Team from the North East Ambulance Service’s attended the scene of the incident, on Thursday lunchtime.

It was only the second time the couple, from Sunderland, had visited the nature reserve with their border collie Lilly so they were relieved that one of the injured woman’s walking club friends had the locator app What3Words on her phone, which helped the emergency services find the casualty.

The Northern Echo:

Further education lecturer Miss Neal, 28, said: “As a footballer, I’ve seen teammates with a broken leg wait three hours on a pitch for an ambulance so that was a concern, we knew we had to get across that she was an older lady, in the water and getting cold.

“It was a relief to see them arrive and take her off to safety.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Feltoe, a mechanical engineer, said: “I thought Emily handled it really well, the way she went down straight away to care for the lady while I went to call 999.

“We were pleased to be able to help the lady without putting ourselves in danger. If we hadn’t been there to help it might have been worse, there is next to no phone signal and hardly anyone around so someone alone might be stuck waiting for a long time and if the other woman didn’t have the app we’d have struggled to describe the location.

“We are just relieved how it panned out.”

The Northern Echo:

TWSMRT team leader Steve Owers said: “Emily and Mathew did a cracking job, they did just the right thing.

“While he went to get a phone signal, Emily carefully got down a very steep embankment to help the lady, kept her out of the water and stayed talking to her the whole time which was great.

“They probably prevented it being a lot worse.

“Fortunately we had a doctor with us who was able to administer certain drugs and we were able to patch her up to be taken off to hospital.”