Kayaking minister thanks rescuers for saving his life

sea kayak
Sea Kayak

A Kirk minister was at the centre of a dramatic rescue after his kayak capsized at sea during a sudden storm.

Rev Dr Rory MacLeod, who leads the Strath and Sleat congregations on Skye, passed out and was dragged back to shore by a man who came to his rescue.

The 52-year-old, who holds a 4-star certificate in Sea Kayaking, said David Campbell saved his life.

Dr MacLeod was attended to at the scene then airlifted by helicopter to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment for exhaustion.

The former Royal Marine chaplain's ordeal in a remote location off the coast of Skye happened on Monday at around midday.

Dr MacLeod, who recently took up the sport again after a 12 year break, said the sea conditions changed rapidly.

He said very strong currents mixed with a wind that suddenly veered west to south-west caused a funnel effect and churned up the water.


Dr MacLeod, who was suffering from hypothermia, paid tribute to the brave people who helped him and said their selfless actions represented the best of humanity.

"I was kayaking around the Kyleakin peninsula on the Isle of Skye, from Breakish (near Broadford) to Eilean Iarmain in Sleat - a distance of about 22 miles," he explained.

"I was most of the way there when conditions suddenly changed and I was tipped out of my kayak.

"A fishing boat came alongside and offered to take me to Kyleakin but I settled for a tow towards the shore at Kylerhea.

"The swim in was harder than I had expected and I blacked out before reaching the shore.

"Fortunately a bird-watcher in a hide nearby saw what was unfolding and alerted a local man who came to my rescue, swimming outand dragging me ashore.

"The Coastguard at Kyle and the Stornaway air ambulance were mustered and I was eventually airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where I quickly recovered."


Dr MacLeod said he would like to acknowledge the "alacrity, generosity and heroism" of those who came to his rescue.

"Neil Robertson and his crew who towed me towards the shore, having offered to take me all the way to Kyleakin," he added.

"David Campbell who saved my life while risking his own by swimming out to help me, locals and members of the Kyle RNLI and Stornaway air ambulance who treated me at the scene.

"Andrew, Iain, Sheila and colleagues who stabilised me at Raigmore and - of course - my gorgeous wife who drove 95 extra miles to collect me and another 95 to get me home".

Dr MacLeod also thanked the Scottish Water worker who made a special delivery during the night when a burst pipe in the area cut off the family's water supply.

The minister was inducted into his charge in March 2015 after serving 10 years at Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews.