Ben Corr from Ealing was running along the side of the Thames at the beginning of the morning rush hour at 7am when he saw a woman attempting to throw a life ring to a man in the water.

He quickly decided that the only way to save the man's life was to jump into the water.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat crew members launched after reports that a man was in the River Thames, drifting dangerously close to the base of the London Eye attraction. The lifeboat crew arrived just moments later to find that two men were in the water.

Mr  Corr, a 36 year old statistician said: "The lady was quite shaken up – she was pointing to a man in the river and said she’d just seen him jump from the bridge. She was clutching a life ring but wanted some help throwing it out to him.

"I did try but he was quite far out and the ring missed him. Despite our efforts to coerce him towards it, he was just flailing in the water. At first I held back because I know the emergency services always advise the public not to enter the water in times like that, in case they get into danger as well. But after a moment I decided I had to – so I climbed down onto the foreshore, entered the river, and swam across to him.

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"The man was very distressed and was pushing me away at first, but eventually agreed to take the life ring. I pulled him back to the south bank wall but there was no way to get out. The woman who had stopped me explained that she had called the police and barely a minute later the lifeboat crew arrived."

Tower lifeboat crew, helmsmen Craig Burn and Stuart Morrison, and volunteer Jenny Barnett pulled both men aboard and returned to Tower RNLI lifeboat station, under Waterloo Bridge. Craig said: "We got them as they were floating down by the base of the London Eye. There is some machinery there and we were concerned about them floating close to that, but we got to them in time.

"We met with our ambulance service colleagues back at the station and they treated the man who had entered from the bridge. He was cold and shaken and still distressed, and was taken away by ambulance crews for further treatment.

"Ben stayed with us for a short while and we gave him blankets and lots of tea and biscuits. Ben is right that we don’t advise people to go into the water to help people, but he assessed the situation and made a measured, very brave decision to go in. What he did was hugely commendable and we take our hat – or helmet – off to him: there is one man out there today in London who would surely have lost his life if it hadn’t been for Ben and the lifeboat crew."