St Bees RNLI volunteer in lake rescue

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI volunteers are on call 24/7 even when they are miles from the coast. St Bees RNLI trainee Helm Chris Evans, who has been with St Bees lifeboat for over 15 years, used his RNLI training to help save lives on Wastwater in the Lake District last weekend.

Chris Evans with his son Tom and their canoe

RNLI/Chris Evans

Chris with his son Tom

Chris Evans and RNLI volunteer Helm Alistair Graham were spending the afternoon paddle boarding and canoeing with their families enjoying the summer weather. It was while they were having a break that Chris noticed two people swimming a good distance from the shore.

One of the swimmers started shouting to other members of their group on land, Chris was unable to understand what they were shouting but it was becoming clear that at least one of the swimmers was struggling.

Extensive RNLI training and 15 years of experience on St Bees lifeboat meant Chris’s instinctive reaction was go to the swimmers assistance.

Chris and his son Tom quickly put on their lifejackets and set off, Chris on his paddle board and Tom in his canoe. When they arrived at the nearest swimmer he said ‘you need to save my friend’.

Using his Helm’s training Chris assessed the situation and seeing that the first swimmer was okay he instructed him to swim ashore. When they reached the second swimmer they successfully helped him on to the paddleboard and returned to the shore.

Both swimmers were cold, exhausted and shaken by their experience but unharmed.

Chris and Alistair took the time to explain to them the problems of swimming in cold water over a long distance particularly after consuming alcohol.

St Bees RNLI Volunteer Community Safety Officer Ian Howard said: ‘During the hot summer days a cooling swim can seem very inviting, but please remember the lakes can get very deep and even at this time of the year the water is extremely cold. The most experienced swimmer can tire very quickly in these conditions and get into difficulties and you should never go swimming after drinking alcohol’.

For advice on how to stay safe in and around open water, please visit:

Notes to editors

RNLI Picture caption

The photo shows Chris with his son Tom. Credit: Chris Evans

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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