A 62-year-old British man has become an Internet sensation as one of two men to wrestle a shark away from children on an Australian beach recently.
Paul Marshallsea, a grandfather, was filmed by a local news crew grabbing a six-foot-long shark by the tail at Caloundra beach near Brisbane in January, falling into the water as the beast tried to shake him off.
Marshallsea has received praise from national media, lifeguards, and readers worldwide, but says employers weren’t quite as impressed.
Apparently he was on sick leave at the time and, based on his behavior, he didn’t seem that sick.
“Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way,” the Pant & Dowlais Boys & Girls Club charity told him in a letter. “The photographs and footage appearing in newspapers and television broadcasts.”
Here’s the footage:
The charity added in a follow-up letter: “The breakdown of the trustees’ confidence and trust in you and your ability to perform the role is so great that we find that dismissal is the only course of action we can recommend.”
Marshallsea had been on leave since last April over work-related stress, and says his doctor advised him to go on vacation.
“I didn’t have a problem with my back,” he told the BBC in response to the charity’s letter that he appears healthy. “I had work-related stress.”
Marshallsea has worked for the charity for the past ten years and says he and his wife, who works for the same organization, rarely even took weekends.
“We created a whip to hit our own backs. It grew so big and we didn’t realize [there] was no stopping it,” he said.
“If I hadn’t gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job,” he remarked in disbelief. “You think being in charge and running a children’s charity, they would have patted me on the back and congratulated me. But to sack us both without any sort of discussions first is just disgusting.”
A man who answered the phone at the charity Wednesday said no one was immediately available for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.