South Shields RNLI lifeguards rescue capsized kayaker

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards rescued a 62-year-old male whose kayak had capsized in the water offshore from South Shields (Mowbray) Beach, on Saturday 7 July.

RNLI lifeguard running with rescue board

RNLI/Nathan Williams

RNLI lifeguard in action

At 10:20am the charity’s lifeguards spotted a male kayaker in difficulty around 500m out to sea from South Shields Beach (Mowbray). It became apparent that the kayak’s bungs had become undone and water was quickly filling the vessel, causing it to capsize.

RNLI lifeguard Luke Dixon immediately swam out on a rescue board and requested the inshore rescue boat from Sandhaven Beach (north end of South Shields Beach), which was manned by Tom Spencer and Aaron Curle.

All three lifeguards reached the casualty within minutes and brought him back to shore in the rescue boat, where he received aftercare and had fortunately not received any serious injuries.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, Alex Richardson said: ‘The lifeguards did an incredible job and immediately took action when they noticed the kayaker was in danger and needed their help.

‘Kayaking is one of the UK’s most popular water sports, but it is also classed as a high risk sport by the RNLI. We urge all kayakers, novice or seasoned professional, to always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within easy reach.

‘We would also advise kayakers, and canoeists, to wear a flotation device, to let people know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and to check the weather and tides before heading out.’

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the charity that saves lives at sea, began this year’s kayaking campaign in May and is urging kayakers to take heed of their advice and build it into their routine before they enter the water.

How to stay safe

  • Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach: If it can't be reached in an emergency, it's no help.
  • Wear a personal flotation device
  • Check the weather and tides.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you'll be back.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.
  • Get some training: Contact your local canoe club and look for coaching sessions run by a British Canoeing or Canoeing Ireland coach.

To learn more about the RNLI’s safety advice, please visit

Notes to editors

The RNLI kayaking campaign aims to improve the safety of kayakers by raising awareness of the risks involved in the sport and the importance of keeping a means of communication within easy reach when they paddle. It is part of the RNLI’s wider Respect the Water campaign.

The campaign went live on Friday 4 May and runs until October 2018, as kayaking is more popular during the warmer weather.

Kayaking is classed as a high risk sport by the RNLI and between 2011 and 2015 there were 18 UK fatalities*. The RNLI wants to prevent people from being a rescue or fatality statistic by giving them the knowledge to stay safe while enjoying their sport. There were 311 UK RNLI lifeboat launches to kayakers in 2015 and 23 launches in the Republic of Ireland**. RNLI lifeguards responded to 138 kayaking incidents in 2015***.

*Data taken from WAID

**Data taken from RNLI return of service data UK and RoI for 2015 (2015 Op Stats)

***Data taken from RNLI lifeguard main incident data, UK only, 2015.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Megan McBride, RNLI Media Engagement Placement North East and East, on 0191 536 9158 or at: [email protected].

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 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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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.