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Newhaven RNLI launched to adults and a child cut off by the tide near Cuckmere

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crew of Newhaven Lifeboat launched at 2.20pm on Saturday 15 October with the request from HM Coastguard to search, locate and assist four people, including one child, cut off by the tide near Cuckmere below the Seven Sisters.


Newhaven RNLI and HM Coastguard helicopter rescue below Seven Sisters
Conditions were overcast, with good visibility. Newhaven’s Severn class All-weather Lifeboat, David and Elizabeth Acland, launched into a moderate south westerly cross-shore breeze, with slight sea state and 1.25 metres of swell.

Lewis Arnold, Coxswain, says, ‘Newhaven’s volunteer crew readied the Y-class for deployment whilst we made best speed to the casualties.’

Once on scene, with visual contact made, the Y-class was launched. The casualties were on a section of beach with approximately two metres or less of dry space, huddling in a chalky cove.

‘The weather conditions on scene were at the upper limits of the Y-class capabilities, however, due to the timing of the wave formation and an incoming tide, it was deemed achievable to execute a rescue.’

The casualties had been enjoying a walk along the beach when they were caught out by the incoming tide. The group consisted of three adults and a four year old child. There was a fifth person in the group who had swum out to go and raise the alarm.

‘Two volunteer crew proceeded to the shore in the Y-class. They kept a good look out for rocks, conducted a quick survey of the beach area and carried out a couple of run ins to and out of the shore to establish the safest route for evacuation.’

John Simcock, Navigator, says: ‘The casualties were very distressed by their situation and for the safety of the fifth member of their group who had swum in. We were able to give them reassurance that the other person was well and provide some comfort whilst the best rescue procedure was decided.’

Whilst the Y-class was on route to the casualties, HM Coastguard radioed the information that a helicopter had been approved for launch. It was jointly agreed the safest evacuation from the beach would be to winch and crane the casualties by helicopter, one by one, around to a dry section of beach.

John Simcock, Navigator, says: ‘We assisted on the ground with the helicopter rescue, which took 1 hour 45 minutes to execute. By this time we had been on scene for three hours. The tide had turned, the wind speed had increased and the surf picked up. It was a very inhospitable environment to be in and very the group remained extremely exposed and vulnerable below the cliff.’

The rescue was successfully completed as planned. The two Newhaven volunteer crew attempted to relaunch the Y-class lifeboat and return to the waiting Severn class in deeper water. However, due to the surf, steep beach and fatigue, this was aborted and instead a plan was made to wait for the tide to fall further and with the assistance of the Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT), the lifeboat was carried along the shore and returned with her crew to Newhaven Lifeboat by road.

Lewis Arnold, Coxswain, says, ‘Tides rise quickly and can easily catch people out. If you’re planning a coastal walk or seaside activity, we strongly urge people to check the weather and tides before setting out.’

‘If you do get into difficulty or see anyone else in trouble in the water, please call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard.’

RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Roz Ashton, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07900 887423 or [email protected] or Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer on 07785 296252 [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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Three adults and one child cut off by the tide below Seven Sisters


Evacuation via lift and crane by helicopter agreed safest rescue plan


Three adults and one four year old child rescued from below the cliffs near Cuckmere


Multi-agency response to rescue four casualties cut off by the tide


Newhaven RNLI volunteer crew work tirelessly on scene for three hours

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.