Keeping families together
What does it feel like to save a life? You might not even have realised that you've done so. But every time you make a donation, share our safety advice, or give up your time to raise money or awareness for the RNLI, you will be helping to save lives. Every single rescue by a lifeboat crew or a lifeguard is only possible thanks to your support.
In this video, the families of people who have been saved by the RNLI talk about what it was like to be so close to losing somebody they love. And those who have been rescued recall what it was like to be saved from the edge of life. None of these stories would be possible without your support. So they want to say thank you for being part of the RNLI's lifesaving family.
Behind the rescues
Here are the stories behind the rescues featured in the video.
At Easter 2018, Abigail Fletcher, husband Gary and their two small daughters were staying at a family holiday home on the shore of picturesque Loch Sunart on the west coast of Scotland. Abigail was watching from the kitchen with her girls as Gary and his mum Jean set out on the loch in a canoe. But disaster struck when their craft capsized, tipping Gary and Jean into the freezing water. Abigail called the Coastguard but sat powerless, watching as she waited for help to arrive – which it did in the form of Tobermory RNLI. Abigail credits the RNLI with saving her family. Since the rescue, she has started her own successful business and signed up to run the London Marathon for the RNLI.
Amanda Humble, her 12-year-old son Ellis and Amanda’s friend Donna were on holiday in Cornwall in August 2020, visiting Perranporth Beach where they were enjoying some bodyboarding. Amanda and Donna were just catching one last wave when they suddenly found themselves caught in a rip current and being pulled out to sea. They struggled in the dumping waves, raising their arms for help. Luckily, Ellis was able to swim to shore and alert the lifeguards, who leapt into action. Navigating the chaotic waves, lifeguard James Kirton reached Amanda on his rescue watercraft and got her to cling on as he returned her to the beach, where she was reunited with Ellis. His father had tragically died a few years earlier, so Amanda knew what was at stake that day: 'Without the RNLI, I wouldn’t be here today. My son would be an orphan.'
The Prentice family’s story
Colin Prentice fell suddenly ill with a brain haemorrhage while on holiday with his family at Porthminster beach in St Ives in August 2019. As Colin lay unresponsive, his family’s first reaction was to seek help from the RNLI lifeguards, who took immediate control. The team gave casualty care to stabilise Colin, while clearing the beach for the air ambulance to land and supporting his distraught family. They were prepared for the worst.
Colin’s daughter Georgia was at work in Manchester, when she received a call from her mum, Helen, sharing the dreadful news and asking her to travel to Cornwall and say goodbye to her dad. But the next day in hospital, Colin twitched a finger and, despite doctors giving him a 50% chance of survival, went on to make a miraculous recovery over the next 3 months. A year later, Colin and his family were able to return to Porthminster to thank the lifeguards whose quick thinking and training undoubtedly help save his life.
Ten-year-old Ravi and his family from Leeds were paddling in the sea at South Bay, Scarborough, during the summer holidays when Ravi and his dad Nathu Ram became separated. Helpless, Nathu watched as Ravi drifted out of sight with the strong current. Remarkably, Ravi was able to remain calm and remember the advice he had seen on the RNLI’s BBC series Saving Lives at Sea. To ‘Float to Live’ by lying on his back like a starfish and calming his breathing. Ravi had managed to stay afloat in the water for around an hour when Scarborough RNLI’s lifeboat found him and pulled him to safety.
Julie and Megan’s story
The Heylings family from Bury, Greater Manchester, were holidaying at their beloved spot at Trearddur Bay in Anglesey when mum Julie, 17-year-old daughter Megan and her two 17-year-old friends took a trip along the coast in two inflatable kayaks. However, the conditions suddenly changed, and Megan and her friend’s kayak was picked up by a wave and dashed onto some rocks, injuring Megan. The pair struggled to climb to safety and shield themselves from the waves with the kayak as Julie, with Megan’s other friend in the second kayak, paddled to find mobile signal and call for help. The crew of Trearddur Bay RNLI came to their aid and Megan was transferred by stretcher to an ambulance with suspected spinal injuries. At hospital, Megan was found to have bruising to her spine and crush injuries to her legs, but thankfully no breaks. A few weeks later she was able to complete her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, including a 50-mile walk in the Lake District.
Matthew and Geoff Davey’s story
Geoff Davey and his 15-year-old son Matthew from Devon were windsurfing at the beach at Exmouth when the tide turned and Matthew was carried out to sea. Geoff, who has 30 years of windsurfing experience, decided that, rather than risk attempting a rescue himself, he should alert the RNLI lifeguard team. Lifeguard Dom Brown launched the rescue watercraft and rescued Matthew, guiding him to hold onto the sled of the RWC so he could be brought back to shore to a relieved and thankful Geoff.