Donate now

RNLI rescue schoolboy drifting on inflatable dinghy more than a mile out to sea

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) rescued an 11-year-old boy after he drifted more than a mile out to sea on an orange inflatable dinghy.

On 19 July, the boy’s family and a member of the public on the beach called 999 for the Coastguard as the youngster was blown out to sea with the volunteer crew at Dungeness quickly launching to search the area.

Rescue footage released by the RNLI shows the moment the volunteers found the boy over a mile out to sea.

Volunteer crew member, Stuart Richardson, said: ‘The boy’s family on the beach could see their son being blown offshore and realising the situation was quickly worsening did the right thing in calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard.

‘He also did the right thing by staying seated in the dinghy until help arrived. When we reached him, he was very cold and scared but otherwise well and we warmed him up with blankets, biscuits, and a drink before reuniting him with his parents.

The boy’s mother said: ‘I shouted out to him to stay still and stay on the boat, and he listened.

‘I can’t explain the emotions I went through when I saw him drifting out to sea. In that moment, I felt like I lost him.

‘When the lifeboat crew brought my son back to me, I thanked them for saving his life and I can remember one crew member saying, “we didn’t save him, he saved himself by staying on the inflatable dinghy”.

‘I can’t thank the crew at Dungeness enough for saving my child and bringing him back safely.’

Stuart added: ‘He was found more than a mile offshore which shows just how quickly an offshore wind can blow an inflatable out to sea so we would encourage people visiting the coast to always check which way the wind is blowing before entering the sea.

‘Also by choosing a lifeguarded beach where possible and swimming between the red and yellow flags it means our highly-trained lifeguards can keep a watchful eye over those enjoying the water.’

RNLI lifesavers are expected to be busy during the school summer holidays. Last year, of the 41 lives saved by RNLI lifeguards 39% were children under 13.

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for 7-14 year-olds is:

  • Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.
  • Stay together – Always swim with an adult, younger children and non-swimmers should always be within arm’s 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.

The RNLI is a charity that saves lives at sea, and relies on donations to continue its lifesaving work. To donate, please visit:


Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected]

RNLI/Dungeness Lifeboat Station

Dungeness RNLI rescue young boy at sea.

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.