RNLI lifeguards from West Kirby have been given a prestigious award during a dedicated ceremony after they saved a man’s life in a gallant rescue which happened almost exactly a year ago on Hilbre Island.
On Wednesday 8 June, Norman and Mike Proctor (who are father and son) and Tom Corlett were handed The Alison Saunders’ Lifeguarding Award – an annual award sponsored by retired RNLI deputy chairperson, Alison Saunders MBE, which recognises the most valiant and courageous rescues performed by the charity’s lifeguards.
The award was presented by RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease, who praised the lifeguards for their efforts: ‘The professionalism our lifeguards displayed during this service was second to none. Their alertness ensured a quick response to the incident and their teamwork with the lifeboat crews delivered a positive outcome.’
The rescue, which also involved volunteer lifeboat crews from West Kirby and Hoylake, happened during May bank holiday last year, just as the lifeguards on duty were doing a final sweep of the beach before heading home for the day.
RNLI Lifeguard Manager Peter Rooney recalled the day of the rescue and explained how the teamwork carried out by the lifeguards and volunteer crew from both stations saved this man’s life. ‘If it wasn’t for that final sweep of the beach, the man may not have been found. The quick thinking from the lifeguards and their decision to call on the lifeboats for help, combined with their casualty care skills was nothing short of outstanding.’
West Kirby and Hoylake volunteer crews showed tremendous skills even as the screams of the casualty could be heard over the boats engine noise. Adie Gregan, from West Kirby, took command of the scene and co-ordinated the rescue between the crew, lifeguards and Coastguard helicopter.
RNLI lifeguard Mike said: ‘My memory of the rescue is still really vivid. I spotted a man clinging to a rock in the water who looked like he was in serious pain. He was becoming weaker and weaker and his head kept slipping under the surface of the water.’
‘Dad jumped straight in to rescue the man, and then I went in to support the lower half of his body. The waves were crashing in to all three of us making it really difficult to stay afloat.’
In addition to receiving the Alison Saunders’ Lifeguarding Award, each lifeguard was given a share of £500 to be used to further their lifeguard training experience. Other commendable recognitions were given to the volunteer lifeboat crews from West Kirby and Hoylake as they stood up to receive a Letter of Commendation from the RNLI’s Operations Director.
After the ceremony, Charles Hunter-Pease was escorted by the lifeguards and lifeboat crew to the site of the rescue in a lifeguard patrol vehicle.
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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
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