Dorset rescue survivor thanks RNLI lifesavers in emotional Christmas video

Lifeboats News Release

A woman who fell 40ft down a cliff near Swanage has thanked the RNLI volunteers who helped save her in a special video of survivors wishing the charity’s lifesavers a merry Christmas.

Amy was abseiling down a cliff at Anvil Point south of Swanage when she felt herself falling: ‘Halfway into leaning back it was kind of like being suspended for a moment before everything came crashing down’.

The volunteer crew from Swanage Lifeboat Station were first on the scene as part of a multi-agency rescue which eventually saw Amy being airlifted to hospital by HM Coastguard with serious injuries.

In the video Amy joins 13 survivors from across the globe in thanking RNLI volunteers for their service and urging others to remember the charity that saves lives at sea, at Christmas.

With Coronavirus restrictions preventing those who have been rescued from visiting lifeboat stations, the video highlights survivors who are able to celebrate Christmas this year because of the actions of the RNLI.

‘I remember being at the bottom of the cliff and it hadn’t quite sunk in what had happened,’ said Amy, who was close to celebrating her 21st birthday when the accident happened.

‘Next thing I know is there is like people dressed in yellow with massive helmets on. I’ve always been a supporter of the RNLI and immediately recognised the clothing’.

‘I knew they had the big guns, I knew if need be they could get spinal boards and the means to get me out. I’ve always loved the RNLI so I knew the capabilities that they had’.

Four years on Amy is still coming to terms with the injuries she suffered in the fall, but says she always takes time at Christmas to remember those who helped to save her and keeps in touch with the crew at Swanage.

‘We’ve always been very thankful of those that came on the day, I’ve always sang their praises and the fact that they go from being in their day job and like five minutes later being out on the ocean. It’s quite a drastic thing and it’s something which I think takes a certain type of person’.

‘With Coronavirus we haven’t been able to go down (to the station) but every time that we went down to the coast at Swanage I would always make an attempt to go to the lifeboat station. My mum likes to go to the shop – most of our Christmas shopping tends to come from there,’ she laughed.

‘It goes through my mind quite a lot – not just at Christmas but the thought that I wouldn’t have got to see my niece for her first Christmas, seeing my friends and family. Things could have been much different that day and I got very lucky’.

‘If I should ever find myself in a similar predicament I won’t be alone, I will have people that will help me, that will literally drop what they are doing in a second and go and help someone they don’t even know so I would say thank you’!

Amy’s rescue featured on Series 4 of Saving Lives at Sea and footage of her rescue is available here:

https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2016/july/18/swanage-launch-to-fallen-climber-video

RNLI volunteers at Poole Lifeboat Station in Dorset have also been marking the Christmas season by launching their first ever Christmas film. Produced entirely by the volunteers themselves, the film is set to bring a festive feeling into people’s homes as well as raising money for the RNLI, as part of the charity’s Christmas Appeal.

The film can be viewed on the following link: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2020/december/06/bubbles-and-baubles-heartfelt-christmas-film-created-by-poole-rnli-volunteers

RNLI lifesavers continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep people safe as lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast. As a charity, the RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever as the charity’s fundraising has taken a huge hit this year.

The lifesaving charity had to spend £1.2M this year to ensure its volunteer lifeboat crews and beach lifeguards had the vital PPE, such as face masks and gloves, to keep our lifesavers safe. This was money the charity hadn’t planned to spend, at a time when RNLI shops were forced to close and fundraising events were cancelled.

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

-END-

Notes to Editor:

Compilation of thank you messages including Amy Welford are available for download here.

For 2020, the RNLI purchased 6.7 million units of coronavirus PPE including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and just under 5,000 litres of hand sanitiser.

For more information please contact Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer for the South East and London on (07785) 296252 paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk or the RNLI National Press Office on 01202 336 789 or Press_Office@rnli.org.uk.

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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 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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