A MUM and dad have thanked a kind-hearted stranger who saved their daughter after she got into trouble while in water at Burrs Country Park.

Ava Wood, seven, was paddling in the River Irwell with a relative when she found herself getting into difficulties on Monday.

Caught by a strong current and deceptively deep water, Ava was beginning to struggle when Maggie McGrath, 51, spotted the youngster.

She said: "I had gone out with my family and we were just playing in the water around a waterfall.

"I had spotted the two little girls and I was watching them - they had asked me if the water was deep and I had said yes.

"A little later I saw she was doing a doggy paddle and her head was bobbing up and down and I though; 'that's not right'.

Maggie quickly spotted the danger and swam over to help support Ava, who had begun to panic in the deep water.

She added: "I have never swam so fast in all my life and I was screaming at her to get her attention before I was able to grab a hold of her."

However, the pair were still struggling and it took Ava's dad, Dave, to jump in along with another stranger.

Dave managed to grab a hold of Ava and just about get her to safety, as the deep water and a panicking Ava was beginning to overcome him.

He said: "We had been following them along when we had to pass around a shrubbery briefly which temporarily blocked our view.

"Luckily the woman was there to to help and she was holding Ava's head up."

Dave jumped in and was able to get Ava on his back, managing to get a foothold on a rock to get the leverage to get them and Maggie to safety

Dave said he couldn't thank Maggie enough for her help and he and wife Lauren have both praised her.

Maggie added: "If it hadn't been for that little girl's dad, I would have gone under 100 per cent.

"I am just so happy and overjoyed that she is back in the arms of her mum and dad.

"I was so praising of her when we finally got out of the water because she listened to everything I said.

"Her parents said I'm a hero but the only hero that day was that little girl - she did amazing."