Four lives saved by RNLI lifeguards patrolling Cornish beaches

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI lifeguard team at Porthtowan beach in north Cornwall rescued two boogie boarders and a kayaker who were caught out by the big surf and strong currents in two separate incidents. On the same day a life was saved at Perranporth beach by an RNLI lifeguard.


RNLI lifeguards who dealt with the incident on Porthtowan Emily Trestrail,Ishmael Hamon,Rhys Lloyd, Deshko Matthews and Taylor Prisk

At Porthtowan, RNLI lifeguard Taylor Prisk was carrying out a routine patrol on the rescue board at around 3.45pm on Thursday 31 May when he spotted two boogie boarders drifting out of their depth into a strong rip current.

He immediately paddled over, and recognising the strength of the rip current, signalled to his colleagues for help. With the female boogie boarders now holding onto Taylor’s rescue board, the three of them were being pushed by the current and breaking waves closer to the rocks. Taylor’s colleague Rhys swam out to assist with a rescue tube, and off duty RNLI lifeguard Deshko Matthews who was surfing, also responded.

Senior RNLI lifeguard Emily Trestrail and supervisor Drustan Ward also responded quickly from the lifeguard facility. They made their way to the waters edge to back the team up, with Drustan paddling out on a second rescue board and Emily monitoring the flagged areas which were still full of water users.

As Drustan reached the casualties, Taylor, Rhys and Deshko had managed to pull them clear of the immediate danger of the rocks and together the four lifeguards brought them both back to shore where they were reunited with their parents.

Drustan says:

‘The rip current was extremely strong, it took four experienced lifeguards to bring the girls back to shore safely. The team worked really well together in difficult conditions and we’re thankful that we were able to return them safely to their families. It’s really easy when enjoying yourself on a boogie board to not notice that you have drifted down the beach or out of your depth before it’s too late. We’d encourage anyone doing the same to be aware of their surroundings and keep a check on where you are in the water.’

Although lifeguards had offered advice about the unusually strong current, later the same day, the RNLI lifeguards came to the rescue of a kayaker who was caught out by the same rip current. As he started to drift dangerously close to the rocks, a set of waves knocked him off his kayak and even closer to the danger. Deshko, who was off duty and on the beach, immediately paddled out on a rescue board, while Rhys and another off duty lifeguard Ishmael Hamon launched the inshore rescue boat (IRB). Emily was coordinating from the beach.

Using great skill to negotiate the surf in the IRB, Rhys reached the kayaker. Deshko had to persuade him to let go of his kayak and get onto the rescue board, while Rhys renegotiated the surf to get into a position to be able to grab him from Deshko and take him into the beach safely.

Drustan says;

‘It was a really busy day for the lifeguard team at Porthtowan. There was sizable surf running, and the rip currents at Porthtowan have been especially strong at low tide. The team worked really hard to advise water users to stay within the flags and of the prevailing conditions and were able to respond immediately to those in difficulty using great skill to negotiate the surf to reach them.‘

On the same day at neighbouring Perranporth beach, the lifeguards were experiencing the same conditions. At around 2.30pm during low tide, Senior RNLI lifeguard Sam Chamberlain was carrying out a patrol of the bathing area with a rescue tube, advising bathers when a sudden rip current pulled three bodyboarders away from the shore. As he was assisting them, he spotted a small boy struggling to swim against the rip before becoming submerged.

Sam says;

‘I swam over and lifted him above the surface to breath, just as a large set of waves came crashing down. I bear hugged him, and held on as we took three waves breaking on top of us, pinning us to the bottom. After each wave I put him over my shoulder and pushed off the bottom so he could get some air. Once the set had passed we made it back to the shore and I was able to hand him over to safely to his family. It is a terrifying experience to be caught in a rip current, with what seems like no break in the wave crashing around you. I was so pleased I was on patrol and able to help him.’

During the half term week (26 May to 1 June), RNLI lifeguards patrolling the seven beaches from Holywell to Porthtowan dealt with 95 incidents, including four major first aids and 10 rescues from the water.

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Notes to editors

  • Please find attached a picture of the RNLI lifeguards who dealt with the incident on Porthtowan Emily Trestrail (Senior),Ishmael Hamon(off duty),Rhys Lloyd, Deshko Matthews(off duty) and Taylor Prisk. Credit RNLI
  • Please find attached a couple of pictures taken by a member of the public of the incident with the bodyboarders on Porthtowan which shows the conditions credit Nikki Willows
  • Please also find attached a picture of RNLI lifeguard Sam Chamberlain Credit RNLI
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Nikki Willows

Incident at Porthtowan in which two boogie boarders were saved by RNLI lifeguards


Senior RNLI lifeguard Sam Chamberlain

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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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