Freshly qualified RNLI helms called to rescue moments after passing final exam

Lifeboats News Release

Just minutes after coming ashore from a final assessment yesterday (Thursday 17 December), newly qualified helms Tom Forehead and Ed Schwarz at St Agnes RNLI were back at sea to help rescue a person cut off by the tide.

RNLI/Tom Knight

Newly qualified helmsmen Tom Forehead (left) and Ed Schwarz (right) on their return from the rescue.

After months of rigorous training and a raft of assessments on land and at sea, Tom and Ed were well prepared for the last of their sea tests aboard St Agnes RNLI’s D-Class inshore lifeboat (ILB). Having been put through their paces the pair had just learned from RNLI Trainer & Assessor Matt Simpson that they had successfully passed out as helms when their pagers sounded. Ed Schwarz commented,

“For a second we thought it must be a practical joke by someone in the village but of course we knew what we had to do, and we were there and ready to launch even quicker than usual!”

With reports of a person cut off by the rising tide at Lushingtons Cove on the North Cornwall coast, the volunteer crew set off in a moderate swell and squally conditions. Arriving on scene in just 14 minutes they were concerned to discover that the casualty appeared to be stuck some way up the cliffs surrounding the cove. With St. Agnes ILB able to communicate the position of the casualty, Portreath Coastguard Cliff Rescue team lowered a cliff technician who was able to secure and recover the man unharmed.

Assessor trainer, Carl Beardmore, who had travelled to St Agnes to see his trainees take their exam, said,

“It is a testimony to the commitment and hard work of these two volunteers that they were able to put their training into action so confidently and with such immediate effect. Thanks to the crew and our Coastguard colleagues, a man’s life was saved.”

St Agnes RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Emma Watkins said,

“We are delighted that Ed and Tom have passed out as helms. We always knew they would be great in charge of the lifeboat but to be fair, we didn’t expect them to have to prove it quite so quickly!”

The rescue comes at the end of a challenging year for St Agnes RNLI and the charity as a whole.

Emma added,

‘We’ve had a very challenging summer, rescuing those in difficulty in the midst of a pandemic and with foreign holidays being cancelled, we’ve received more visitors to our local beaches.’

‘Throughout the pandemic, the crew at St Agnes have been ready to answer the pager and rescue those in difficulty and we will continue to be ready to serve throughout the Christmas period.’

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. Help us brave a wave we never expected. To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

St Agnes RNLI Lifeboat was refuelled, rehoused, and ready for service at 4pm.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Tom Knight, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07538 418391 or tom_knight@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.

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 142,200 lives.

HM Coastguard, Portreath Cliff Rescue

HM Coastguard cliff technician secures the casualty

RNLI/Doug Stein

Volunteer crew Tom Forehead and Ed Schwarz moments after passing out as helms.

RNLI/Doug Stein

Crew members Tom Forehead and Ed Schwarz are given the news that the have passed out as helms, moments before their pagers sounded.

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.