A COURAGEOUS Portsmouth man who died while trying to save the lives of two young girls is to be honoured with an award for his heroism.
Marco Lima De Araujo, 33, drowned on July 26 2012, after entering The Solent in a bid to rescue two distressed youngsters then aged four and 10.
Now, more than three years on from the tragedy, Marco’s courage is to receive a posthumous certificate of recognition from the Royal Life Saving Society.
Marco’s long-term partner Tracey Hall said she was stunned by the accolade, which came through earlier this month.
‘It came totally out of the blue,’ said the 44-year-old cleaner, of Wellington Street, Southsea.
‘I just couldn’t believe it. None of use were expecting this.
‘It’s a great honour. We are very proud of Marco.’
David Pearce is the chairman of the Wessex branch of the RLSS and presented the accolade.
He said: ‘I would immediately say Marco was a hero. He very brave to have done what he did.’
Tracey added that she now hoped to launch her own charity to help disadvantaged children in Portsmouth, as a lasting tribute to Marco.
She said: ‘We want to leave a legacy of him and his kindness.
‘He gave his life for two children and I just felt that setting up this charity would be right.
‘Before he died, he had talked about doing something to help disadvantaged children. He used to say it would be lovely if we could raise money for those kids.’
The move has been commended by Mr Pearce who said: ‘The fact she is hoping to start up a charity is brilliant.’
Tracey described Marco, formerly of Grafton Street, as ‘a bright and bubbly’ character, who could ‘brighten any room’.
She also said he had a great relationship with her children and grandchildren.
As well as aiming to set up a charity – which she hopes to call 4 Marco – Tracey is also intending to create an illustrated children’s book to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in the Solent.
‘It’s been three years since he died but I’m still trying to deal with it,’ she said.
‘I think about him all the time. It is like I have never moved on from that day.
‘I never thought he was in danger. I just thought he was going to go in there and walk back out.’
However, Tracey, who has two children and five young grandchildren, felt her partner’s death could have been avoided if people were more aware of the risks of swimming in the sea.
‘It horrifies me to see young children still playing close to the Solent,’ she added.
‘We will never prevent this but we do need to raise awareness.’
She explained she wanted to begin the charity sooner, but had been too wrapped up in grief at Marco’s death to start.
To make things worse, Tracey suffered further heartache when her father Adrian died suddenly, in May, last year, aged 65.
Then, in August 2014, her son Emlyn Saunders, 26, suffered a serious head injury when he fell from a roof while working which left him in a coma.
She said: ‘It’s just been a complete nightmare. I didn’t think it could get much worse but it did. I wasn’t in a good place.’
Tracey is now appealing for help in starting her charity.
She is looking for people with experience in beginning charitable ventures to guide her through the process.
She is also keen to speak to anyone who could help her publish a small book, which she would give to primary and secondary schools in the city.
Those who can help can contact Tracey on (023) 9286 1737, 07593 139051 or email email@example.com
Coroner hailed Marco as a true hero after rescue bid
MARCO Lima De Araujo drowned after entering The Solent with Connor Faith, at Hot Walls, in Old Portsmouth to try to rescue two young girls.
He had been on a family trip to the beach with his partner Tracey Hall and her grandson when the tragedy happened.
He entered the sea at about 3.45pm on July 26.
However, when the 33-year-old never returned, an extensive search was launched, involving police, a coastguard helicopter and RNLI.
His body was discovered days later, on August 7.
A post-mortem examination revealed he had drowned.
At a subsequent inquest last year, the coroner hailed the Portugal-born Portsmouth resident as ‘a true hero’.
Reaching a conclusion of accidental death, David Horsley, Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner, said: ‘The man was a hero. He didn’t give it a second thought. He’s given his life to save those children.’
Giving evidence during the hearing about Marco’s reaction when he realised the girls were in danger, Tracey said: ‘Marco just looked at me and said: “I’ve got to go and help the little girl” and that was it. He was gone.’
Mr Horsley wrote to the Queen’s Harbour Master and Portsmouth City Council to request formal emergency protocol was developed after the tragedy.