Seven Hayling Island RNLI volunteers to receive awards for saving three lives
Seven volunteer crew members at Hayling Lifeboat Station are to receive RNLI awards for their courage in rescuing three people whose lives were in significant danger as severe weather threatened to drive their yacht on shore.
The dramatic rescue involved both of the station’s lifeboats and saw the crews demonstrate exceptional teamwork and skilled boat handling in adverse conditions that threatened all three lives on board the vessel.
The incident happened on the afternoon of 28 June 2020, when HM Coastguard requested the station to launch both its inshore lifeboats to a 25ft sailing vessel which was anchored on a lee shore close to the entrance of Chichester Harbour.
Force 5 to 6 south westerly winds increasing to force 7 and a flood tide were forcing the yacht, which had no working engine, to breach in two metre high surf - and the conditions were worsening. Selsey Coastguard Rescue Team were on the scene but unable to help the stricken occupants who were 200 metres offshore.
Observing the dangerous situation from the lifeboat station, D class helm Andrew Ferguson and Atlantic 85 helm Daniel Macpherson began to work out a rescue plan even before the alert from Solent Coastguard. They quickly realised both of the station’s lifeboats would be needed - the smaller D class that could get in close to the yacht in the shallow water and the larger Atlantic 85 to help recover casualties or undertake a tow.
At approximately 1.45pm the Hayling D class lifeboat Jacob with Ferguson as helm and Lloyd Pepperell and Jack Anson as crew, launched into a strong flooding tide in a breaking two-metre confused sea. At one point Ferguson had to pause the passage to check everyone was ok. Several times they lost sight of the yacht as the sea was so challenging. Although the casualty vessel was less than a mile away the conditions and submerged hazards meant it took 15 minutes to arrive with waves breaking over - and into - the lifeboat.
A few minutes later the station’s Atlantic 85 Derek Battle took to the water under the command of Macpherson with Sharon Swan, Elly Briggs and Thomas Lincoln as crew. Encountering huge waves, the more powerful lifeboat arrived on scene a few minutes after the D class.
By this time the yacht was pitching violently, yawing and rolling uncontrollably. In barely one and a half metres of water the keels were crashing against the bottom. The vessel was taking on water and in danger of capsizing and breaking up.
The perilous conditions meant it took three attempts for the D class to get close enough so a crew member, Lloyd Pepperell, could leap on board. He found the casualties sitting in the cockpit and looking terrified. They were soaking wet from the waves which were breaking over the vessel and none of them were wearing a lifejacket. Three survivor lifejackets were passed across from the Jacob.
Leaving the casualties in the cabin, Pepperell placed himself in the bow as the yacht pitched violently. A tow line was thrown by the crew of the Atlantic 85, Pepperell made fast and cut the anchor line, remaining on the bow to give the vessel more ballast in the confused surf.
The tow back to Chichester Harbour took around an hour. Speed was limited to three of four knots as the yacht reacted violently, twisting and bucking at any attempt to go faster. During this time Pepperell managed to get the engine working and eventually was able to helm the vessel to a mooring and its occupants made safe ashore. No injuries were sustained during the operation. Both lifeboats were stood down and ready for service at 5.10pm.
Hayling Island Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) Jonathan Bradbury said: ‘This rescue was textbook, a testament to the skill and determination from the crew’.
Ferguson recalled that after the incident he and the others on the D class couldn’t move because they were locked into position by tension and adrenaline. It took him 20 minutes to get out of the lifeboat because his knees and muscles had taken such a significant workout.
‘Everything, the training, the maintenance (of the lifeboats) it all interlocked and worked perfectly,’ said Macpherson. ‘Everything fell into place. We drill, drill and drill to perform. That day we needed to perform and the crew - and the boat - did’.
John Payne, RNLI Director of Lifesaving Operations, said: ‘Strong command and leadership was clearly demonstrated, as well as extremely skilled boat handling in adverse conditions by both helms. Both lifeboat crews demonstrated exceptional teamwork and saved three lives’.
Following the incident helms Andrew Ferguson, 46, and Daniel Macpherson, 45, will receive the ‘Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum’ for their courage, determination, decision making skills and boat handling skills.
D class crew Lloyd Pepperell, 23, will also receive the ‘Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum’ for ‘his extreme selflessness and courage as well as stamina when boarding and acting independently on the casualty vessel’.
For their courage and teamwork during the service ‘Vellum service certificates’ will also be award to D class crew Jack Anson, 19 and Atlantic 85 crew Sharon Swan, 47, Elly Briggs, 36 and Thomas Lincoln, 33.
Note to Editors:
The award ceremony will take place at a later date.
(NB crew member Elly Briggs has moved abroad since the rescue so does not feature in the photographs)
Awards photo 1: Pictured at the lifeboat station at Hayling Island: (left to right) Sharon Swan, Lloyd Pepperell, Andrew Ferguson, Daniel Macpherson, Jack Anson, Thomas Lincoln
Awards photo 2: Pictured on the beach at Hayling Island (left to right) Thomas Lincoln, Daniel Macpherson, Sharon Swan, Jack Anson, Andrew Ferguson, Lloyd Pepperell
Awards photo 3: D class crew volunteers (left ot right) Lloyd Pepperell, Andrew Ferguson (helm) Jack Anson
Awards photo 4: Atlantic 85 crew volunteers (left to right) Thomas Lincoln, David Macpherson (helm) Sharon Swan
RNLI media contacts
Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer SE and London (07785) 296252 email@example.com
Alan Bartlett, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Hayling Island Lifeboat Station (07749) 061220 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.