Swimmer pulled from the sea off Felixstowe by Harwich RNLI volunteer

Lifeboats News Release

A swimmer struggling in the surf just three metres from the shore at Felixstowe was rescued by a Harwich RNLI volunteer.


Leam Donn

On Sunday 5 September, while on routine exercise, the volunteer crew of four aboard Harwich RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Tierney, Harvey, and Sonny Reid, were alerted to a swimmer in difficulty off Felixstowe beach at 10:35am by UK Coastguard.

Arriving on scene in a matter of minutes, the volunteer crew were faced with a swimmer struggling in the surf against a rock breakwater. Unable to get close with the lifeboat, a crew member entered the water to reach the casualty and managed to get them ashore. Once safely on the beach the crew member, who is a full-time paramedic, was able to assess the casualty more thoroughly.

The man was suffering from hypothermia, injuries to his arms and legs from impacting with the breakwater, and there was a real concern he might suffer from secondary drowning, due to inhaling sea water.

The first aid kit and oxygen was passed over from the lifeboat. The casualty was given oxygen, his wounds were dressed, and his condition was continually monitored with the help of volunteers from Felixstowe Coastguard Rescue Team, while awaiting the arrival of paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service.

Only expecting to be afloat for a development exercise, RNLI volunteer crew member, Leam Donn spoke about his first service call after completing six months of initial training:

‘Arriving on scene my nerves and adrenaline were heightened when I saw what looked like a rag doll in a washing machine by the rock breakwater, just three metres from the beach. With only a small role to play, I was more of a witness to events, which have inspired me more than ever to make the difference with my fellow volunteers.’

Leam went on to say:

‘With both my parents having been supporters of the charity, this is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Nothing makes me happier than wearing the RNLI badge on my chest, and seeing the pride in my father’s eyes, and I know my mother will be looking down with pride too.’

It costs more than £1400 a year to train a volunteer such as Leam, in order that they can make a real difference when it matters to someone’s chances of survival.

Visit rnli.org for safety tips and advice on a range of coastal activities.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI Harwich volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or richard_wigley@rnli.org.uk,

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or clare_hopps@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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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