Lifeboat call interrupts wedding anniversary for Newquay RNLI volunteer
A Newquay lifeboat volunteer had to interrupt a quiet walk along the Gannel Estuary with his wife on their 38th wedding anniversary, to answer his RNLI pager and launch the charity's inshore lifeboat when a woman was reported to be struggling in a rip current at Holywell Bay.
On Thursday lunchtime (18 April), Wayne ‘Aggie’ Martin, one of Newquay RNLI’s deputy launching authorities and tractor drivers and his wife, Sue, were enjoying a walk along the estuary to celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary, when Aggie’s RNLI pager went off at 11.45am.
After 45 years with Newquay RNLI, retired teacher and boat skipper, Aggie, responded with the rest of the volunteers and made his way to the station, where he drove the RNLI tractor across Newquay Harbour and Towan Beach at low tide to launch the charity’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat in response to the call for help.
Fortunately, whilst both lifeboats were en-route, the woman was reported to have reached safety with help from a member of the public and the RNLI crews were stood down by the Coastguard and returned to the harbour at around 12.15pm.
Once the lifeboats had been recovered, washed down, refuelled and rehoused ready for the next call, Aggie and Sue were able to return to the Gannel for their well-deserved anniversary lunch.
Sue, who also has two sons serving on Newquay lifeboat crew, said later, in response to comments of support on the lifeboat station's Facebook page: 'This kind of thing happens at nearly every family celebration we have. I've got used to it after 43 years of knowing him!'.
Aggie and the rest of the lifeboat crew were called again the next day and responded at 4pm, when UK Coastguard received a 999 call from a member of the public who had concerns for the safety of five people they hadn’t seen return from an isolated part of Bedruthan Steps and thought they may have become trapped by the incoming spring tide.
The RNLI crew launched both inshore lifeboats and were three-quarters of the way to Bedruthan Steps when they heard that all five people had been safely accounted for, so the lifeboat volunteers, Padstow Coastguard and local RNLI lifeguards were all stood down and the lifeboats returned to Newquay at 4.30pm.
Earlier in the week, Newquay’s RNLI volunteers responded to their pagers twice within one hour on Tuesday lunchtime (16 April), firstly to a couple of children struggling in the sea at Porth and then to two people reported to be trapped by the tide between Whipsiderry and Watergate. All four people reached safety and the lifeboat crew were recalled.
At the end of a busy Easter week for Newquay lifeboat, one of the RNLI volunteers said: ‘On these four occasions, everyone reached safety without assistance from the lifeboat crew, but our volunteers are always ready to respond, wedding anniversary or not! If you have concerns for someone’s safety, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Our lifeboat crew would always rather be called to check, even if they’re ultimately not required’.
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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.