Friday, 14 Jun 2024

Incredible moment man risks his life to save sheep stranded on jagged rocks

A brave man risked his life to save a sheep who ended up stuck on a jagged rock out at sea.

Chris Oxlade-Arnott, 51, and his wife Jilly, 55, were out for a walk along the coast in Woolacombe, Devon, on Monday when they noticed the distressed animal in one of their photos.

Jilly said: ‘It was glaring up at us like it was saying “help”. It had obviously been there a while but it was stuck. It was shaking so it was clearly saturated. It was trying to get away from the water.

‘If we left it, it would die. We couldn’t walk away. We couldn’t live with the what if.’

Jilly stayed on the clifftop to guide her husband and also so she would be able to call for help if ‘things went badly’.

But Chris was confident he could carry out the mission because he used to rock climb and is ‘quite sure-footed’.


Chris said: ‘The sheep looked rather pleased to see me. Luck was on our side and the sheep was too exhausted to make a fuss.

‘The rocks were jagged and very pointed, with steep edges and limited foot holds, which were really nasty especially when wet.

‘So, establishing a suitable route out to her was quite tricky, let alone finding a way back carrying a sheep.’

When Chris first reached the animal, she started ‘panicking and moving towards the water’ but he managed to grab her and reassure her.

Incredible photos show him using one arm to hold the sheep around his neck, and the other to clamber up the rocks.

He added: ‘When we first spotted her we thought that she wasn’t going to get out of this by herself, in fact, it’s likely to get worse and end in tears.

‘I don’t like to see animals in pain or distress especially if I can help. It didn’t look like anyone else was going to assist or had even spotted her, nor was it something I would concern the coastguard with at that stage.’


The sheep initially laid down once it was brought to safety, but the couple knew it could have a heart attack if it stayed upside down.

‘We rubbed its head and we got it upright,’ Jilly said. ‘She made a few steps then just ate – she must have been starving.’

Onlookers gave Chris, who runs an art gallery with his wife, a well-deserved round of applause.

He said: ‘Sheep tend to graze right near the edge. They’re a bit stupid really. If they see a nice bit of grass they’ll go and get it.

‘It’s do you or don’t you, and whether you take the risk. But we decided we just couldn’t leave it there to die.’

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