Lifeboat volunteers scale cliffs to rescue stranded woman

Lifeboats News Release

A 25-year old woman is recovering after being rescued from one of the most inaccessible parts of the Somerset coastline by Minehead’s volunteer RNLI crew on Saturday (18 March).

The lady was reported missing from her home in Taunton late on Saturday and Minehead’s two RNLI lifeboats were launched just after 10 pm to search the coast towards Porlock.

Within minutes the woman had been spotted stuck in a waterfall partway up scrub-covered 800-feet cliffs.

Conditions were too rough to allow the station’s D class lifeboat to beach on the boulders beneath her but volunteer helm Jim Whittaker swam ashore and managed to climb up to the woman as coastguard teams from Watchet and Lynton tried to reach her from above.

A coastguard helicopter arrived from South Wales and illuminated the scene with a searchlight.

Helm Phil Sanderson also swam ashore from Minehead’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat and joined in the attempts to get the woman to safety.

'It was just too difficult for the coastguards to get her up the cliff through the undergrowth and the helicopter couldn’t get in close enough to winch her off,' he said.

'In the end we got her down to the beach, the D class crew dropped their anchor and brought the lifeboat in among the rocks and we managed to get her off.'

The woman was taken back to Minehead harbour and handed over to ambulance personnel.

Minehead RNLI Chair Bryan Stoner said the volunteer crew deserved congratulating for a ‘textbook’ rescue.

'This is possibly one of the most dangerous stretches of coastline in the entire Bristol Channel,' he said.

'Only a lifeboat crew with all the right skills and experience could ever get in to this location, where you have an almost sheer cliff with huge boulders at its feet.

'But even then this mission clearly pushed their abilities to the limits. Thanks to outstanding teamwork and the backing of the coastguard they were able to do a fantastic job.'


Further information from Chris Rundle, Press Officer, RNLI Minehead on 01984 639026 or 07786 630523

Key facts about the RNLI

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, in a normal year, 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.