British woman who saved her twin sister from crocodile attack is first to be given King's bravery medal from Charles

14 May 2024, 05:28 | Updated: 14 May 2024, 07:34

Georgia and Melissa Laurie
Georgia and Melissa Laurie. Picture: Social media

By Kit Heren

A British woman who rescued her twin sister when she was attacked by a crocodile has become the first person to be given the King's Bravery Medal by Charles.

Georgia Laurie, 31, saved her sister Melissa when they were on holiday in Mexico in 2021 by punching the crocodile in the head multiple times, but it continued to attack.

Georgia found her sister face-down in the water minutes later and tried to take her back to the boat but the crocodile attacked again, biting Melissa's abdomen and ankle.

But she continued to fight her way out until she finally got away with her sister. Both twins, who are from Berkshire, were seriously hurt, with Melissa saved by a specialist doctor who happened to be in the area.

Now Georgia will receive the King's Gallantry Medal, which acknowledges exemplary acts of bravery.

Read more: British woman saved by twin sister during crocodile attack in Mexico

Read more: Disabled boy 'mauled to death by crocodiles after being thrown into the river by mother', as police launch murder probe

Georgia and Melissa Laurie
Georgia and Melissa Laurie. Picture: Social media

Ms Laurie said: "It's an honour, I was so shocked as well when I received the letter because I didn't see it coming, I didn't expect it."

She went on: "I feel really privileged, it's a silver lining to have come out of the terrible ordeal... it kind of softens the whole traumatic experience.

"It's been a good thing for not just me but for the whole family, I feel like I have to share it with my sister because let's face it I don't think I would have been nominated for it if she didn't survive.

"What's made this story so incredible is Melissa's unwavering bravery throughout it all because she was so strong during it and I don't think I would be here without her, she really gave me the strength to keep fighting."

Following the incident, the pair were taken to hospital, Georgia with hand injuries and Melissa in a medically-induced coma to prevent the infection of her injuries.

Both made a full recovery, but have struggled with their mental health in the intervening years.

Crocodile in Mexico.
Crocodile in Mexico. Picture: Alamy

The sisters were volunteering with animals in the country and went for a swim in their break when they were attacked.

They had booked a tour guide through the hostel they were staying at and later discovered he was not licensed and had taken them to a swimming location that was not recommended.

Describing her fight against the crocodile, Georgia told the Times: "I was in a bubble. All my senses were heightened but it was just me and my fight against the crocodile. I’m knee deep in water by this time and I was just punching the crocodile on the snout, hammering it with my fists while trying to hold onto Melissa and keep her up.

"I’d heard that if you punched a shark on the nose it could deter it. It seemed to work and I’ve done some research since which shows that they have black dots on their snouts which are really sensitive.

“It bit her glutes. By now I was tired like you wouldn’t believe but she gave me the strength to fight when I felt like there was literally no strength left in me.

“I drew such deep strength from somewhere, from her, from my love for Melissa and eventually the crocodile moved off.”

Melissa and Laurie
Melissa and Laurie. Picture: Alamy

This year's Civilian Gallantry List, which includes nine people, is the first to be approved by the King.

Also set to receive the medal is Pc Zach Printer, who confronted gunman Jake Davison unarmed on August 12 2021 in Keyham, Plymouth.

Among the other recipients is Pc Steven Denniss, who was stabbed in the leg while apprehending a double murder suspect while off duty in Louth, Lincolnshire, on June 1 2021.

Also on the list are Lawrie Elsdon-Dew, for protecting others during fierce fighting outside the British embassy in Sudan in April 2023, and Stacey Farrington and Jake Walker, who stopped a speeding car travelling the wrong way on a motorway using an ambulance.

The King's Commendation for Bravery goes to Stephen Ellison, who rescued a stranger from a river in Chongqing, China, in November 2020.

Chhaganlal Jagaita, who helped people out of a burning hotel in Mati, Greece, in July 2018, and Paul Martin, who intervened during a knife attack on April 14 2021, also receive recognition.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said: "It is impossible not to be moved by the stories of those receiving the gallantry awards today. Their acts of bravery have saved lives in impossible circumstances.

"I commend them on what they have done and congratulate them for receiving this honour."

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