Bembridge RNLI busy at this evening's St Helens Fort Walk

Lifeboats News Release

'RNLB Norman Harvey' (D-Class 778) rescued three children during this Year's St Helens Fort Walk

St Helens Fort with lots of 'walkers' close by

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

St Helens Fort with lots of 'walkers'
This year's St Helens Fort walk nearly ended in tragedy when two girls - thought to be aged around 7 and 10 - nearly drowned when they were walking back from having 'walked to the Fort' and fell into some deep holes in Bembridge Channel.

Fortunately their progress was being monitored by the volunteer three man crew of RNLB Norman Harvey which had been launched earlier in the evening to provide a safety presence at this annual 'happening' and they were pulled out of the water by the quick thinking crew who swum to them and brought them back to the Norman Harvey. With the two youngsters safely on board the lifeboat, they were taken to the shore to rendezvous with local Coastguard officers and to be reunited with the remaining members of their party - a male (thought to be an uncle) and another two young children (thought to be aged around 6).

Unfortunately, the male left the scene without leaving any details with the Coastguard and without the girls being checked over medically. An appeal was therefore been issued through the Island Echo for them to medically checked over as soon as possible as they had probably ingested a quantity of water when they had gone under water and they were therefore at risk from 'secondary drowning'.

ILB senior helmsman Andy Sibley said 'fortunately we were in the right place at the right time and were able to rescue the two children but it is very important that they get checked over as soon as possible.'

John Keyworth, Lifeboat Operations Manager Bembridge RNLI said 'Andy and crew member Fred Milne who rescued the second child both acted instinctively and deserve great credit for their quick reactions.'

In a separate incident a child, initially thought to be suffering from anaphylactic shock was brought back to the Lifeboat Station and handed over to a waiting ambulance.

The St Helens Fort Walk is an annual 'happening' and estimates are that this year there were over 3,500 people 'walking'. As a 'happening', no one claims any responsibility for it; likely dates (the best evening low water in August) are not officially published but increasingly find their way onto social media. Bembridge RNLI issues safety advice prior to the likely date and both Bembridge local Coastguard team and Bembridge RNLI's D-Class Inshore Lifeboat normally provide a safety presence over the period that access to the Fort from the shore is possible.

RNLI media contacts

Mike Samuelson, Bembridge RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07785 593254 or

Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07785 296252

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLB Norman Harvey with a crew member holding onto a missing dog

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

RNLB Norman Harvey with a missing dog

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

Close up of the RNLB Norman Harvey with a crew member holding onto a missing dog
RNLB Norman Harvey with St Helens Fort in the background

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

RNLB Norman Harvey close to the Fort

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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, 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.

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