A BOY was saved when a bystander commandeered an inflatable canoe in a dramatic rescue.

Crowds applauded a man after he leapt to the rescue of the 10-year-old who came into difficulty in Wastwater.

Benjamin Whitaker, a 29-year-old sports assistant, was alerted after he saw an empty paddle floating in the water from the shore.

“I saw a paddle board floating in the strong currents some 300 metres away and assumed someone had let it go from further south,” said Mr Whitaker.

“It was only when someone shouted that a boy had fallen in that I stood up to look more closely. I could see nothing but an empty board floating fast with the currents.

"I considered jumping in to swim over, but at that distance I figured it could take up to 12 minutes and I just didn’t know if he could last out that long.”

Spotting an inflatable canoe belonging to some neighbouring visitors, Mr Whitaker asked if he could commandeer the craft to make a rescue.

Some six minutes later after shooting off as fast as his arms could row, Mr Whitaker was greeted with considerable relief from a young 10-year-old boy with no life jacket and struggling to tread water.

Hauling the young chap into the canoe, and at a somewhat more leisurely pace, Benjamin returned the boy to his 12-year-old brother and friends in a nearby cove who had been none the wiser.

Arriving back where he had first set off, the rescuer was greeted by applause from all those who had witnessed the drama unfold before them.