One year later, RNLI lifeguards are reunited with casualty whose life they saved
Porthminster RNLI lifeguards, in West Cornwall, had the rare opportunity to reunite with a casualty who had their life saved by the lifeguards at Porthminster beach last summer (23 August 2019) alongside other emergency services.
Porthminster RNLI lifeguards, Yasmin Mathews, Katherine Woods and Elis Richards, along with lifeguard supervisor Lloyd Davies, worked quickly and efficiently to administer casualty care to stabilise Colin, whilst communicating with the Coastguard and clearing the beach to allow the air ambulance to land. The lifeguards were also supporting the distraught family, controlling the crowds and keeping the situation as calm as possible.
Colin was transferred to hospital by air ambulance as quickly as possible where he undertook further treatment and testing. Colin’s family had to prepare for the worst and went back to the hotel to get some sleep and ready themselves to say goodbye.
Whilst driving back to the hospital the next morning, Helen Prentice (Colin’s wife) received a phone call from the nurse to say that during one of Colin’s checks he had twitched his finger and they were therefore going to give him another 24 hours to see if he’d make further progress.
Colin slowly started to show small improvements, but for any significant development to be made, his family had to decide whether to go ahead with brain surgery to remove the clot. Given a 50% chance of survival, Colin’s family knew they had to take the risk and give him one last chance to fight.
Three months later, Colin had made a miraculous recovery at Derriford hospital and then in Nottingham hospital, where they finally moved him to DMRC Stanford Hall (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre) where Colin usually works. The centre saw him return to his workplace – not as an employee this time, but as a patient. The team here continue to work on all aspects of his recovery, recently returning to swimming and even playing golf!
One year on from the serious incident, Colin and his family visited St. Ives for their annual holiday. Yasmin, Katherine, Elis and Lloyd arranged to meet up with the family on Saturday (15 August) at a venue of Colin’s choice and he chose Porthminster beach where it all happened.
Richard Allman (Colin’s brother-in-law) says, ‘It was the quick response of the lifeguards on the beach that day who saved Colin’s life. When there seemed little hope, they never gave up. Without a shadow of a doubt, we know that the lifeguard’s actions were the reason Colin is still here today and able to visit the scene where it all unfolded.’
Georgina Lindsay (Colin’s daughter) says, ‘There are many things that happened along our Dad’s journey that we feel fell into place. My brother and I being so far away allowing his brain to rest; the person assisting the lifeguard team who just happened to be a neurosurgeon; but ultimately, it all began with the RNLI lifeguards.
‘Their professionalism, quick thinking and fantastic teamwork is a testament to them as individuals and the training they have received. They remained calm and methodical, which not only helped our Dad, but also our Mum as she was able to trust that they were doing everything in their power to help him.
‘There are no words that can explain how incredibly grateful we are to the team. We will forever be in their debt – our Dad defied the odds and the lifeguards played a huge part in this.’
Colin Prentice, says, ‘I can’t thank them all enough. They knew exactly what to do and helped save my life. I wouldn’t be standing here without them and the teamwork they showed on the day, between themselves and the other emergency services, was brilliant.’
Matthew Prentice (Colin’s son) says, ‘It was fantastic to know that the team were recognised for their incredible work and an honour to present them with their award at the Cornwall Emergency Services event last year. The evening was a great opportunity to be able to spend time getting to know the lifeguards and as we have all said, to thank them in person which not many people get to do.’
Helen Prentice (Colin’s wife) adds, ‘Earlier in the year we decided we wanted to have a family trip back to the South West to thank everyone who had played a part in Colin’s recovery. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t think this was going to happen, however we are so happy to have made it now. The last few days have been a fantastic opportunity for us to make some happy memories as a family in Devon and Cornwall, but most importantly, for him to meet the amazing people who helped to save his life.’
Lloyd Davies, RNLI lifeguard supervisor says, ‘It was a wonderful, yet very emotional experience for myself and the lifeguard team to meet with Colin and his family on Saturday and see him looking so well. He is making a fantastic recovery and it’s amazing to see the positive outcome of what was a very dramatic day this time last year.
‘We rarely hear feedback or find out the conclusion of major first aids that are passed on to other emergency services, so to all be together again, almost a year to the day, was an absolute pleasure.
Notes to Editors
- Please find attached photos of RNLI lifeguards, Yasmin Matthews, Katherine Woods, Elis Richards and Lloyd Davies with Colin and his family at Porthminster beach
- Here is the link to the press release last year where Porthminster lifeguards won the Cornwall Emergency Services Award honouring a person or crew for an incident where they had a big impact on somebody’s life https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2019/december/11/rnli-lifeguards-win-cornwall-emergency-services-award-2019
- Follow the link to see which beaches are currently lifeguarded https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol
- To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: www.rnli.org/donate
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.