RNLI lifeguards kick start with a busy weekend across Cornwall and Devon beaches

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards are back on duty across nine* beaches in Cornwall and Devon. The first weekend of lifeguard patrols consisted of multiple rescues, major first aids and countless preventative actions whilst adhering to social distancing measures and wearing appropriate PPE


RNLI lifeguards on Constantine providing casualty care during corona virus pandemic

The first incident occurred on Sunday lunchtime at Croyde Bay where three bathers appeared to be caught in a rip current whilst swimming back to shore. RNLI lifeguards were on paddle board patrols when they spotted three bathers in difficulty and were able to get to them promptly. The lifeguards radioed their colleagues on the beach to launch the rescue water craft (RWC) to assist them back to shore safely, adhering to the new procedures around social distancing. The bathers were all brought back to shore and given water safety advice.

The second incident occurred on Sunday afternoon at Constantine Bay. Three water based rescues were performed at the same time a member of the public was having a suspected heart attack. The lifeguards worked extremely well together dealing with multiple incidents and casualties and successfully used their new PPE for the first time.

The third incident occurred on Sunday evening, just before lifeguards were due to depart from Gwithian Beach. There was a strong off-shore wind that continued to pick up throughout the day, increasing the risk of bathers being swept out to sea. Gwithian lifeguards spotted three heads about 40metres out to sea and began to paddle out towards them. There was one swimmer and two body-boarders, one without fins which made it difficult for them to make any distance. RNLI lifeguard, Glenn Eldridge, guided the bathers back to shore whilst towing the finless body-boarder by holding on to the back strap of the paddle board. They had rapidly drifted over 100m by the time our lifeguards had got to them.

A similar incident occurred at Widemouth Bay on Sunday evening where a surfer had drifted out to sea and was struggling to paddle back in with the strong head wind. Widemouth lifeguards launched the RWC to assist the surfer back to shore. Widemouth and Gwithian beaches both experienced strong off-shore winds yesterday and face a similar direction.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, Leon Bennett says, ‘The lifeguards are so pleased to be back on some of our beaches working closely with other emergency services to help keep our beaches as safe as we possibly can. A huge shout out to Constantine Bay lifeguards, HM Coastguard and South West Ambulance Service for their successful rescues and evacuation on Saturday. The mutli-agency teams worked seamlessly together.’

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, Lloyd Davies also says, ‘The lifeguard’s main task is prevention and over the weekend with the beautiful weather and clean waves brought hundreds of visitors to the beach. Our lifeguards were constantly talking to the public providing beach safety advice and keeping everybody safe.’

The first weekend back on the beach saw a positive response from members of public happy to see RNLI lifeguards back across some beaches in Cornwall and Devon. However, the RNLI would like to reiterate how important it is to follow the beach safety advice with limited beaches where lifeguards on duty and adhere to social distancing rules especially when approaching the lifeguards.

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should always follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage

  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water

  • Do not allow your family to swim alone

  • Do not use inflatables

  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float

  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Notes to editors

  • *RNLI lifeguards are currently on duty across nine beaches in Cornwall and Croyde in Devon with a lifeguard service on Porthtowan beach being established by the charity on Sunday (31 May)

  • The RNLI is urging everybody to follow the beach safety advice and #bebeachsmart

    RNLI media contacts

    For more information please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement for the South West on 01736 753567 or [email protected]. or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920818807 or [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected].


RNLI lifeguards providing patrols on Gwithian beach during the corona virus pandemic


RNLI lifeguards on Constantine working with other emergency services to provide casualty care


RNLI lifeguards working with other emergency service during corona virus pandemic


RNLI lifeguards and other emergency services on Constantine

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.

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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 by email.