A JOURNEY to a bridge party ended with three Camberley pensioners battling for their lives in a swollen river.

There was no hint of the drama to come when Jimmy and Nancy Nunn, and their friend Ken Cotterill, set out on New Year's Eve.

But with Ken at the wheel of his brand new Toyota 4x4, they got lost along an unlit lane at Bramshill and plunged into the River Blackwater in pitch darkness.

The car, with the terrified occupants up to their necks in freezing water, was swept down the river before ramming itself against a bridge.

Recalling the terrifying experience on Monday, Nancy said: "Jimmy and Ken scrambled into the back seat alongside me and tried to smash the windows.

"Eventually they managed to open one of the doors. The water was between 8ft. and 9ft. deep and they swam out."

But as Nancy tried to follow them, she found herself in danger of being swept away by the fast flowing river. The two men, who were standing on the bank, caught hold of her arms, but were unable to pull her out.

"I think I must have been in the water for about half an hour," said Nancy at her home in Crawley Hill, Camberley.

Jimmy, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Air Corp, and Ken shouted for help as they struggled to keep hold of Nancy.

Their cries were eventually heard by their bridge-playing friends, who were out looking for them. By the time they reached the scene, Nancy had collapsed from hypothermia.

Both she and her husband, who are in their 70s, and Ken, of Middleton Road, Camberley, were taken by ambulance to the Royal Berkshire Hospital at Reading.

"We were very lucky to survive," said Nancy, whose sense of humour shines through when she recalls the terrifying incident.

She said: "When the water was rising in the car Ken was telling us not to panic, and I thought: ‘If this isn't a time to panic, then when is?' "

As for Jimmy, he reckons it was his army voice which helped to alert their rescuers.

"When I was a cadet at Sandhurst, the sergeant major used to tell us to shout at the tops of our voices on the parade ground," he said.