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RNLI Torbay remembers outstanding bravery

Lifeboats News Release

On this day 43 years ago (26 August 1976) an extraordinary rescue took place when an RNLI Torbay volunteer rescued six adults, eight children and an Alsatian dog at Forest Cove in Start Bay.

RNLI Torbay

John Dew was awarded the RNLI's bronze medal for his outstanding courage on 26 August 1976

A five foot surf and strong winds were battering the cove when RNLI Torbay's volunteer crew arrived on scene at 16.00 that day. Realising that the lifeboat would be unable to reach the shore in these conditions, Second Coxswain Bower dropped anchor and veered the lifeboat down to within 50 yards of the beach and volunteer crew member and professional diver John Dew put himself forward to swim ashore with a line.

Removing his sea boots, but wearing his oilskins and life jacket, John Dew managed to reach the cove and hauled in the breeches buoy to the shore. Using this line he took seven trips to and from the lifeboat to bring the entire party to safety before finally suffering total exhaustion.

The RNLI Torbay volunteers then landed the survivors at Dartmouth before returning to Brixham at 2010 hours. John Dew was awarded the RNLI's Bronze Medal for his outstanding courage and determination shown that day.

RNLI Torbay

The 26 August recue was carried out in RNLI Torbay's relief lifeboat 'Princess Alexandra', which was a 52' Barnett class, built of wood and launched in 1958

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 over 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 or by email.