Paul Marshallsea seen grabbing a shark. (Wales News Service via Telegraph)
A 62-year-old man who bravely dragged a shark away from children at an Australian beach has been fired from his job at a British charity because he had claimed to be on sick leave.
Paul Marshallsea and his 56-year-old wife, Wendy, were on leave from the Pant & Dowlais Boys & Girls Club in Wales for "work-related stress" in January, when he was spotted on a video grabbing the shark in shallow water as it approached the children and pulling it in the other direction. The footage, captured by a local television crew, went viral, with Marshallsea "hailed a hero," as London's Telegraph newspaper put it.
"We don't recommend manhandling sharks, but this gentleman did a great job," a spokesman for the Australian coast guard said at the time.
But Marshallsea and his wife returned from Australia to find a letter from the charity's board of trustees informing the pair they had been fired.
"Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia," the letter read in part. "And, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way.”
The husband and wife had worked there for 10 years.
"You think being in charge and running a children's charity, they would have patted me on the back and congratulated me," Marshallsea told the paper. "But to sack us both without any sort of discussion first is just disgusting."