Busy week for West Cornwall lifeguards as holidays start with sun and surf
Monday 22 – Friday 26 July was a very busy week for the RNLI lifeguards patrolling the beaches in west Cornwall as the sunny weather and start of the school holidays drew large crowds to the beaches.
Tuesday 23 July in particular was incredibly busy. There was big swell and offshore winds at Gwithian and Godrevy, where RNLI lifeguards assisted a number of people in difficulty, including a learner surfer and bodyboarders who had drifted out of the flagged area. The rescue watercraft (RWC) was also used to rescue people at the Top Cove, a stretch of beach just past Godrevy that is not lifeguarded. The RNLI always advises people to go to a lifeguarded beach if entering the water so that help is easily at hand if they get into difficulty.
At Hayle and Porthkidney beaches, RNLI lifeguards continuously patrolled the river to prevent people from entering the water where there are strong rip currents. Lifeguard Joel Ninnes rescued a girl using the RWC after she got caught in the river rip current. If you are swimming or bodyboarding at a lifeguarded beach, make sure to stay between the red and yellow flags as this is the safest area for these activities.
At Perranuthnoe, on the south coast, lifeguards were also dealing with consistent waves and large crowds. Throughout the day, lifeguards Jack Bushnell and Alice Piper ran patrols on rescue boards and conducted multiple rescues. Shortly after packing up, at approximately 6.10pm, five people entered the water and became stuck in a rip current, unable to swim back to shore. Both lifeguards responded and brought the group safely back to shore, with three of the casualties holding onto one rescue board. The lifeguards stayed at the beach until 7pm to offer safety advice and ensure that nobody else got into difficulty.
RNLI lifeguard Piran Philips, 16, carried out a rescue while off-duty on Tuesday. He had just finished training at Portreath Surf Lifesaving Club when a woman was spotted in a rip current. The conditions were challenging, with 1.5m swell and offshore winds, but fortunately Piran and another club member were there to respond to the incident, with Piran using a paddleboard to return the casualty safety to shore. The casualty, who was local, thanked Piran and the other club member, recounting that she was in fear of her life. The RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor team praised Piran for his swift actions and for demonstrating that young people who work for the service are an asset to local communities.
On Wednesday 24 July, Gwithian and Godrevy lifeguards responded to a surfer in the black and white flagged area who had been hit by a stand up paddleboard. The lifeguards administered first aid and then quickly evacuated the casualty to an ambulance, where she was taken to hospital. It is important to remain aware of and consider other water users while participating in any watersport. If you are new to stand up paddleboarding or surfing, it is advised that you seek lessons from a professional school.
Ollie Shilston, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor said:
‘With the combination of large surf and sun with the school holidays, conditions have been challenging. The lifeguards have worked professionally and astutely to ensure preventive measures are taken wherever possible, and in spotting and responding to situations that require their assistance.
With the school summer holidays in full swing, the beaches around the region remain busy. We’re urge people to head to a lifeguarded beach and ensure that they seek the advise of the lifeguards on duty to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable day.’
Notes to editors
- Please find attached the following photos from last week
- RNLI lifeguards at Gwithian (credit Becky Bright)
- Busy Porthminster beach (credit Lloyd Davies)
- Lifeguards at busy Porthmeor beach (credit Becky Bright)
- Lifeguards at Porthkidney beach (credit Becky Bright)
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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, 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.