Friends raise £3K playing games in memory of lost friend

When 24-year-old Tyler Westlake was lost at sea after fishing off Cornwall in 2020, four of his closest buddies decided to raise money for the RNLI by gaming together online – the same hobby that brought them all together as friends.

Friends Jasper, Jake, Connor and Charlton

Photo: Connor Freeman/Charlton Cunningham

Tyler had a real affinity for the sea and loved surfing and fishing – as well as gaming with his buddies Jasper, Jake, Connor and Charlton

Connor, Jasper, Jake and Charlton (aka the T-boys) streamed a 24-hour marathon gaming session to help raise money for the lifeboat volunteers who searched night and day for their missing friend. ‘Tyler always wanted to do a charity event like this,’ says Charlton. ‘So it was a great way to honour him and say thanks to everyone who helped look for him that day.’

The lads set an initial target of £1,000 on their Just Giving page. But at the time of writing, they’d already tripled that – with kind donations from friends, family and avid gamers still coming in. 

Fundraising aside, the boys have also been sharing water safety messages with their followers and friends. ‘I just want to say to anyone thinking of surfing or fishing, to make sure you use lifesaving equipment,’ says Charlton. ‘Lifejackets are so important. If we could turn back time, we would have worn them.’ Connor adds: We really hope that Tyler’s story raises awareness. Even incredibly strong swimmers only need to be caught out once for something tragic like this to happen. So always respect the water.’

Jasper, Jake, Connor and Charlton play Among Us
The T-boys (and girls!) hook up for multiplayer game Among Us.

The T-boys hosted their gamethon on Twitch. It’s an online streaming platform – primarily for gamers. The site is like a blend of Facebook live, YouTube and Zoom, and people come together to play games like Mario or Fortnite and chat in real time. Some just follow and watch for tips or because the host is particularly smart, funny or interesting. 

It’s not just about video games, though – the range of channels and interests is growing rapidly by the day and those creating the best content are becoming the key influencers of a new generation.

Tyler’s story

Tyler Westlake was fishing with two friends off Tubby’s Head near St Agnes on 12 November 2020 when all three were washed off the rocks and swept into the sea by a freak wave. Two were able to get themselves to safety but Tyler was missing.

Lifeboat crews from St Agnes, St Ives, Newquay, Padstow and Sennen Cove worked with the Coastguard and other emergency services throughout the afternoon and until the early hours to try and find Tyler. They resumed the search again at first light the following day but, sadly it was in vain and the Coastguard eventually stood everyone down. Together, our volunteers from these five RNLI stations spent 45 hours at sea. 

RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager Dickon Berriman says: ‘The search was a huge collective effort by all our volunteers and their search and rescue colleagues, both those on scene and those providing back-up support at stations along the coast. Our volunteers worked tirelessly and showed remarkable commitment, coming from far and wide and working into the night and again into morning. We were devastated that the outcome was not the positive one we all wanted and our thoughts remain with Tyler’s family and friends.’

‘Take time every day to think “what if”, says Jake. ‘Tyler and I were fishing with friends in the same spot a few days earlier. If that wave had happened then, it would have taken the five of us.’

‘We lost a legend to the sea,’ say Charlton. ‘But we hope his story can save others. Stay shining, Tyler.’