A British tourist who wrestled a shark away from toddlers on an Australian beach has been sacked after returning home because he was on sick leave.
Paul Marshallsea, a 62-year-old charity worker from Wales, was hailed as hero back in January when he grabbed hold of the shark’s tail as it swam towards toddlers playing in the water after hearing cries of “shark” from onlookers.
A local television crew filming nearby captured pictures of Marshallsea wading into the shallows to grip the 1.9 meter dusky whaler shark before leading it out into deeper waters.
Images of the risky rescue went around the world, and Marshallsea was called a hero in Australia. Unfortunately, those images also came to the attention of his employer — the Pant and Dowlais Boys’ and Girls’ Club children’s charity — where he and his wife Wendy, 56, had worked for 10 years.
Unbeknownst to them, their employers had decided the couple’s decision to take a vacation constituted skiving. When the couple returned to the UK after a two month break in Australia, they were greeted by a letter from the charity dismissing them “with immediate effect.”
The couple are now unemployed and living in one of the worst job-opportunity areas in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. “What am I going to do now? There’s not much call for shark-wrestlers in Merthyr Tydfil,” Marshallsea told reporters. “I never thought for one minute that wrestling with a shark would cost me my job.”
The former charity project coordinator says he is disgusted that footage of the spontaneous rescue has been used as evidence against him, adding, “If I hadn’t gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job.”
Marshallsea’s anger is compounded by the fact that he and his wife worked for a children’s charity and were sacked without even being given a chance to talk about their case.
Of the shark rescue, he says his “instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail” to protect the toddlers.
As yet, trustees at Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club Children’s Charity have offered no comment on the matter.