Frank Taylor

Ladysmith man awarded national bravery medal

Ladysmith man awarded national bravery medal

Frank Taylor argues he’s not a hero, but it looks like Gov. Gen. David Johnston would beg to differ.

Taylor, a 28-year-old Ladysmith resident, has been honoured with a Governor General’s Medal of Bravery.

The recognition stems from a harrowing tale that happened three years ago, when a fire broke out in the home of Saltair resident Roy “Ted” Silvey.

Taylor, who was living next door at the time, was just about to go to bed that night when his dog began to growl.

“I got up and looked out the window, and saw the next-door neighbour’s house was on fire,” Taylor said at the time.“It was roaring pretty hard and the trees around it were starting to catch fire.”

Outside, Taylor’s horror grew when he heard a weak cry for help.

Looking into a window, he saw Silvey crumpled on the floor in a room choked with thick, black smoke.

“Ted’s head was bleeding pretty bad and he was on the floor, too weak to get out,” Taylor said.

He tried to grab the elderly man — 86 years old at the time — but heat-seared skin bunched and came off in his hands.

Taylor then reached far into the window and hooked his arms under Silvey’s armpits and, with a mighty effort, threw himself backward.

By this time, Taylor’s father-in-law — off-duty B.C. Ambulance Service Supt. Rick Ruppenthal — had run to assist pulling Silvey away from the flames and smoke.

And it appears they were just in time — just as Taylor looked back at the house, spark-spewing power lines dropped.

“If we would have been on that deck one minute longer, well…,” Taylor said.

In a 2008 interview, he denied doing anything extraordinary.

“I’m not a hero,” he said. “When somebody hollers for help, you jump in.”

He stands by that, and said he was surprised to get a medal for bravery.

“I was at work one morning doing some roofing when I got a call on my cellphone, and it said ‘Governor General’ on the call display,” said Taylor, who works with the Coast Guard and as a carpenter.

“I thought, ‘This is a little different.’”

He plans to visit Ottawa to collect his medal during the decoration ceremony — a date for the event has yet to be set — and noted that sadly, Silvey passed away a few months after his rescue.

“His burns had healed and he was just starting to walk, but he had a heart attack,” Taylor said.

As for his medal, don’t expect Taylor to brag about it any time soon.

“I was just surprised,” he said. “That (recognition) doesn’t happen every day.”