Busy Easter for the RNLI lifeguards in the South West

Lifeguards News Release

Warm sunshine and big surf conditions across the south west over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend meant RNLI lifeguards were busy with a number of incidents on the beaches.


Emergency services at Top Cove

In West Cornwall, RNLI lifeguards patrolling Gwithian, Porthmeor, Sennen and Hayle beaches dealt with 19 major incidents over the four days.

These included an incident at the non-lifeguarded beach, Top Cove on Sunday (21 April). Due to the number of people in the water at Top Cove, the RNLI lifeguards patrolling neighbouring Gwithian had carried out sweeping patrols and advised people swimming throughout the day.

At around 3.30pm, RNLI lifeguard Adam Bayfield was patrolling on the Rescue Water Craft (RWC) when his colleagues in the lifeguard facility at Gwithian spotted two girls in difficulty at Top Cove and asked Adam to respond.

Adam quickly made his way over where two other girls were supporting the casualties who had been dragged about 50m out of their depth. The two friends were in swimming costumes and struggling in the cold water. Adam supported them onto the rescue sled at the back of the RWC and bought them back into shore, checking they were ok before, heading back to Gwithian to reports of a vulnerable male in the water.

Unbeknown to Adam, the girl’s friend had also been swimming, but gone back to shore to raise the alarm, shortly after the incident, she collapsed on the beach. Members of the public called 999 and the Coastguard tasked the St Ives lifeboat and Portreath coastguard, and the Coastguard helicopter to the scene. The girl was given casualty care before being air lifted to hospital by the Cornwall Air Ambulance. More information on the incident from St Ives RNLI can be found here.

Ollie Shilston, RNLI lifeguard supervisor says;

‘Its been a busy few days for the RNLI lifeguards, and the volunteer lifeboat crews who have interrupted their Easter weekends to respond to the pager. The incident on Sunday is a great example of how our emergency services work closely together to ensure the safety and care of people enjoying the coast.’

Along the coast at Perranporth RNLI lifeguards dealt with 12 major and minor first aids. They also rescued 23 people from the water. On Friday afternoon RNLI lifeguard Sam Chamberlain responded to a casualty in the water struggling in a large rip current. As he entered the water with a rescue board to assist them, be spotted another on two people clinging to a bodyboard also in the rip current. He called for assistance before heading straight for the first casualty who at this point was in serious difficulty. He quickly got him back to shore, before heading back in to rescue the bodyboarders. A local surfer was helping to keep them afloat and assisted in helping Sam to paddle them to a sandbank from where they could wade back to safety. Sam was joined by his RNLI lifeguard colleagues who helped administer casualty care to all three before they were transported to hospital by land and air ambulance.

At Porthtowan RNLI lifeguards provided casualty care to a surfer who had suffered an potential spinal injury after hitting his head on a sandbank. The casualty was unconcious when the lifeguards first attended the scene, he regained conciousness as they immobilised him before he was airlifted off by the Coastguard helicopter. The lifeguards on duty dealt with five first aids over the weekend and rescued 10 people in difficulty in the water.

At Portreath, off duty RNLI lifeguards Andy and Matt Thomas helped a kayaker to safety after finding him clinging to rocks.

Andy says; ‘Matt and I were surfing and spotted a kayak with no one in just outside the harbour wall. Concerned for the occupants safety we immediately paddled over, we couldn’t initially see anyone, but split up to search the area. Matt found the kayaker who’d fallen out when he capsized in the surf, unable to get onto his kayak he had clambered onto rocks.

Matt put the casualty onto his surfboard and paddled him into a safe location on shore where he was helped by a member of the public. The Coastguard helicopter and St Ives lifeboat had also been tasked but were stood down once it was confirmed that the kayaker was safe. More information from St Ives RNLI here

In North Devon, RNLI lifeguards patrolling Woolacombe and Croyde beaches dealt with eight major first aids, including a child who had fallen from rocks and had a potential head injury, an adder bite and a dislocated shoulder. They also rescued or assisted 18 people in difficulty in the water.

Matt Whitley, RNLI lifeguard supervisor for North Devon says;

‘A combination of amazing weather and good surf conditions meant that the beaches were packed. It was as busy as any day in the peak summer holidays and great to see people enjoying their Bank Holiday weekends.

The RNLI lifeguards teams were on hand to provide safety advice and were quick to respond to incidents in the water.’

For more information or to find out which beaches have lifeguard cover, visit www.rnli.org.uk

Notes to editors

  • Please find attached an image of the emergency service teams at Top Cove beach credit RNLI
  • Please find attached a photo of the Cornwall Air Ambulance on Perranporth beach

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Amy Caldwell on 07920818807 or amy_caldwell@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.


Cornwall air ambulance at Perranporth

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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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