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Portishead RNLI received Letter of Thanks for a lifesaving shout

Lifeboats News Release

Four volunteer crew members from RNLI Portishead have been presented with a Framed Letter of Thanks from the charity’s Head of Region for saving a life following a call out in May 2022 when a young person was reported to be in distress off of Clevedon Beach.

The four crew – left to right – Nick Williams, Paul Weston, Lu Shephard, Susan Beaton

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

The four crew – left to right – Nick Williams, Paul Weston, Lu Shephard, Susan Beaton

It had already been a busy day, the volunteers had been training all day which was unusual for a Saturday, it was a planned ‘super training weekend’ so both Saturday and Sunday were filled with learning for the crew. Not only that, but the volunteers had already responded to two call outs during the afternoon.

When the pager went for the third time at 10.48pm the now tired crew were suddenly wide awake and jumping back into their clothes. Arriving back at the lifeboat station the crew were selected quickly as a person in the water is the most serious of calls to come through.

With sea temperatures still very cold in May, it was important to get to the person before they sucummed to hypothermia and loose the ability to swim.

Paul Weston a newly qualified Helm at the time, was asked immediately to get changed in to his kit and get ready to launch. He was joined by crew members Susan Beaton, Lu Shephard and Nick Williams each of them had already responded earlier that day to one or the other of the previous two call outs. Now their second shout would be the most serious.

The volunteers launched My Lady Anne, the Atlantic 85 lifeboat based at Portishead, with Paul on the Helm he made best speed to where the casualty was last reported to have been seen in Clevedon near to the Pier.

In unusual circumstances for the crew, when they arrived on scene it was clear that the person did not want to be assisted. With growing concerns for the casualty, who was getting very tired and very cold, dipping under the water with exhaustion, Paul agreed that crewmember Nick would enter the water to try and support her. Paul requested that the HM Coastguard Helicopter who was also nearby, stay away until Nick was able to get closer and support the casualty.

After 30mins or so, a very long time in those sea conditions, Nick was able to gain the casualites trust and Helm Paul was able to call in the helicopter to evacuate the casualty from the water using the winch person. They were able to fly the young woman to the safety of Clevedon beach and the awaiting paramedic and ambulance service teams.

Dave Slack the volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Portishead said,

‘It is with great pride that I was able to present Paul, Susan, Lu and Nick with their award, a framed Letter of Thanks from our RNLI Head of Region, Adrian Carey.

Our volunteer crew launch on every shout not knowing exactly what situation will unfold for them and on the night in question, this was very true indeed. The casualty was in a distressed state and was struggling to stay afloat. Had it not been for the actions of the crew, the casualty would have been lost to the sea. Paul, as Helm, demonstrated outstanding leadership, on what in fact was only his second ever shout in command of the lifeboat. Nick selflessly entered the water in order to keep the casualty afloat and responsive until she could be recovered to the helicopter via winch. Susan and Lu managed the lifeboat communications, prepared to receive the casualty aboard; should that become possible, and were ever vigilant to the increasing risks to those in the water.

That night the crew epitomised the RNLI's values and all that we stand for. Saving Lives at Sea, something we ultimately train for, and on this occasion, that is exactly what they did’.

Helm Paul Weston said ‘It was one of the most challenging shouts that I have ever been on. Being in command that day was very humbling. Helping to save someone’s life will have a lasting impact on all of us, I am so proud of all of my crew on board that evening and also the team back at the station for launching us so quickly and being there to support us when we got back.'

Notes to editors

· All images are ©RNLIPortishead

· The four crew – left to right – Nick Williams, Paul Weston, Lu Shephard, Susan Beaton

· My Lady Anne launching from Portishead lifeboat station

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Helen Lazenby, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07800 595995, [email protected], Scott Eggins volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer on 07539 270063, [email protected] or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI online

For more information, please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the RNLI News Centre.

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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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.

My Lady Anne launching from Portishead lifeboat station

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

My Lady Anne launching from Portishead lifeboat station

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.