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RNLI congratulates West Midlands school boy on saving a life

Lifeboats News Release

Praise has been heaped on Dingley Community Primary School pupil Finley Hassall, 11, who has been recognised by the RNLI charity for taking heed of vital lifesaving advice.

RNLI/Danielle Rush

Finley is reunited with lifeguard Guy

By reading about the ‘Float To Live’ technique in the RNLI’s magazine for young supporters, Finley knew exactly what to do when he saw a young boy drowning whilst on holiday in Cornwall.

By encouraging the boy to swim on his back ‘life a starfish’ to regain control of his breathing, he helped him to say calm until help arrived.

Finley said:

‘I looked around and saw waves going over this boy’s head and he was splashing and struggling. He was clearly panicking. I’d read in my RNLI Storm Force magazine about how to float like a starfish so that’s what I asked him to do.

‘I said I’d done this at my swimming lessons before and it will be fine if he could float on his back. He went onto his back and I was talking to him and trying to get him to take deep breaths to calm him down.

‘An RNLI lifeguard soon arrived to check we were both ok and helped find the family of the boy before heading off to help two other people.’

Guy Potter, the RNLI lifeguard who was on duty that day has been reunited with Finley and presented him with a certificate to recognise his actions. In addition, Finley’s classmates were given a special safety presentation to ensure they have the same lifesaving knowledge should they be visiting the coast this summer.

Guy says;

‘Finley did a fantastic job. Being able to keep a clear and calm head in situations like this is really important. It was great to see his confidence grow as he put together what he’d learnt into a real-life scenario and really make a real difference.'

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard are reminding families to take care when visiting the coast as new figures reveal that during the school summer holidays* last year, of the 41 lives saved 39% were children under 13.

As schools prepare to break, RNLI beach lifeguards, are expecting to be extremely busy again during the long summer break.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard are asking those visiting the coast to choose a lifeguarded beach and be aware of some basic advice to keep themselves and their families safe.

Last year RNLI lifeguards aided a total of 11,959 people during the school summer holidays last year. Of those, children under the age of 13 were the most assisted age group with 4,968 aided and 16 lives saved.

Chris Cousens, from the RNLI Water Safety team, said: ‘With an estimated 35M people planning to visit the UK coast this summer**, our lifeguards will be extremely busy during the school summer holidays with younger children, in particular, needing assistance more than any other age group.

‘To stay safe, we’re reminding families to choose a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags which is the safest area as it is constantly monitored by our highly-trained lifeguards.

‘A simple skill we ask everyone of any age to remember is how to Float to live if they find themselves in difficulty in the water. Lean back like a starfish, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. This will allow you to control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. The technique has been proven to save lives.’

Chris said: ‘The Float to Live technique is proven to save lives especially as we know that many people who find themselves in difficulty in the water never intended to enter the water in the first place.’

Throughout the summer months, the children’s RNLI Seaside Safety advert will be broadcast on TV channels with the catchy song reminding those visiting the coast to float like a starfish if they find themselves in difficulty in the water.

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for all young people is:

  • Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.
  • Stay together – Always swim with an adult, younger children should always be within arms reach.
  • Float – If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float on your back like a starfish.
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.


Notes to editors

Notes to editors

· Interview with Finley, Tara Patel (Finley’s mother) and RNLI Water Safety team member available on request

· * figures for England and Wales summer holidays – July 23 to Sept 1 2021

· ** April – 30 September. Basis Research, RNLI Water Safety Survey, April 2022. Representative sample of 1,013 UK adults aged 16-64 / 505 Irish adults aged 16-64

· June to August 2021 RNLI lifeguards aided 15,218 people and saved 90 lives

· Storm Force Magazine is for young RNLI supporters. More information can be found here.

· Downloadable interviews pictures

· Kid’s Float to Live tv advert downloadable here

· To learn how to teach your child to Float watch the video here

· To support RNLI lifesavers, please visit Donate

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Danielle Rush, RNLI Regional Media Manager in Wales and the North West on 07786 668829 or Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer on 07795 015042 or [email protected] or 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.

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.