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A fireman, a chef and a story that goes back 43 years to Carnlough

It was another ordinary Monday night at the beginning of September, with Shauna Kilpatrick working as chef in Tullyglass House Hotel, Ballymena, when something she heard caught her attention.

In her in own words, Shauna “recognised the Carnlough accent!” Looking out, she not only recognised the accent, but also recognised the face of a man she had not seen in 43 years, when she was then 5 years old - the face of Brian Patterson.

Brian also remembered Shauna’s face. The then 16 year old Carnlough lad was out and about that day in the County Antrim seaside town when he heard the cries of a child coming from inside the old mill. A little 5 year old girl had been playing in the derelict building, when she fell and sustained multiple injuries. It was Brian who responded to the cries for help, and who carried the child to safety before she was rushed to hospital.

Shauna and Brian were united again in a surprise and unexpected encounter and they recalled the events of that day over four decades earlier.

Shauna described the meeting when she later on said, “Had the best day ever in at work!”

Shauna said: “When I was 5 years old, I fell while playing in the derelict old mill in Carnlough. I suffered a double fractured skull amongst many other injuries. I was lying slowly bleeding to death when this man, Brian Patterson, saved my life by carrying me to safety. This is the first time I have met him since I was 5, and yes after 43 years we still recognised each other. He is still saving lives as a firefighter in Carnlough. He is a true gentleman and my hero! Thank you, Brian!”

Through the years both Shauna and Brian have grown older and many things have changed but Brian will always remember the face of a young girl unable to move and broken from a fall in a derelict seaside building, and Shauna will never forget the hero who helped, and lifted her as child, carrying her to safety and who ultimately saved her life.