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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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For more information please telephone Colin Wadey, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07742207222 or email

Key facts about the RNLI

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, Carrybridge 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.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland