A TEACHER has been hailed a 'hero' after he tried to save a drowning woman by throwing her a rescue line.

Nigel Smith, a former member of Burnham Coastguard and a teacher at The King Alfred School Academy in Highbridge, said his training 'kicked in' when he saw a crowd of people at the top of Burnham-on-Sea Jetty looking at a woman who was stuck in the water on October 13.

Nigel tried to throw a rescue line to the woman but his hopes were dashed at it did not reach her.

As the water began to rise the woman began to move further out into the darkness but fortunately the Coastguard quickly arrived on the scene and rescued the woman from the water.

Nigel, who was part of the Coastguard for 13 years, said he was 'exceedingly thankful' to the service for their 'quick response' and said he was 'happy to help' the woman.

He said: “I saw someone stuck in the water at the end of the jetty and my training kicked in almost instantly.

"Thirteen years of experience in that position as a coastguard meant I knew what to do - it is second nature to me now.

"I was in the right place at the right time and happy to help.”

Nigel is also a scout leader at the school's scout group and said he will be sharing his experience with the group.

Nathan Jenkins, principal of The King Alfred School Academy said: "This was an amazing heroic act of quick thinking.

"We are very lucky to have many teachers just like Nigel, bringing learning to life every day, as well as inspiring students with heroic acts such as this one."

A spokesman for Burnham Coastguard said: "A very quick and efficient rescue with a positive outcome all thanks to the initial call from a member of our community who did an amazing job of calling it in without hesitation and to one of our former Coastguard team members who was quick to act with the throwline.

"Don't forget to keep yourself safe when in these situations as we don't extra persons in danger or worse.

"If you see anyone in difficulty do the exact thing our community hero did and dial 999 asking for the Coastguards in this weather every second counts and could save a life.

"Well done Highbridge and Burnham Community."