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Two lives saved in first lifeboat shout for new Helm at Skegness RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI Skegness saved two young adults' lives during Martin Stokes's first command of the inshore lifeboat.

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Martin Stokes, Helm on lifeboat service call
On Saturday 1 July 2023 at around 7:00pm HM Coastguard alerted the RNLI Skegness; following a member of the public raising the alarm; that two young adults were being pushed seaward on bodyboards due to strong westerly winds and choppy sea conditions in Ingoldmells, just north of Skegness. The casualties were approximately 750 metres offshore, continuing to drift further.

Despite the challenging conditions, Stokes and his crew, Craig Hopkins and Billy Brookes, responded rapidly, recovering the two casualties onto the D class inshore lifeboat (ILB).

Newly qualified Helm, Martin Stokes passed out as a competent D class Helm in March 2023, and this was Martin's first service call as a Helm.

Initially, a group of four people, two managed to make it to shore while the other two were stranded at sea, being pushed out further seaward. The Skegness ILB was quickly tasked and responded promptly. Upon arrival, the two casualties had drifted approximately 100 meters apart, putting the casualties in more danger as their distance apart expanded.

Upon arriving on the scene, it became clear that both casualties struggled due to fatigue and cold. Both were in the water, only being kept afloat by holding onto their boards. Stokes had to adjust the lifeboat's position to ensure the casualty was swiftly recovered due to the deteriorating situation, as one of the casualties appeared to give up and start falling below the water line. Stokes's swift actions in adjusting the lifeboat's position meant he avoided committing a crew member to the water, making the casualty recovery more straightforward and quicker.

Martin Stokes, Helm, at RNLI Skegness, said: 'The importance of raising the alarm when seeing someone in distress cannot be understated as without the swift alarm raising by the member of the public, this may have been a different outcome. We all must play our part in keeping our coasts safe and alerting the authorities immediately if we see anyone in distress.'

Trevor Holland, Deputy Launch Authority, at RNLI Skegness, said, 'The professionalism of Martin and his crew throughout the service launch was exceptional and highlighted the dedication and commitment of RNLI Skegness' volunteer crews to saving lives along the coast.'

The lifeboat crew brought the casualties aboard and gave casualty care, including administering oxygen. After receiving casualty care onboard the inshore lifeboat, both casualties were handed to the ambulance service and taken to the nearest hospital for further treatment. The initial treatment provided by the lifeboat crew proved crucial in ensuring the survival of the two young adults.

The swift actions of Stokes, Brookes, and Hopkins led to the saving of these two young lives, and this outcome is a testament to the training, dedication, and commitment of the volunteer crew at Skegness.

RNLI Skegness would like to remind everyone to remain vigilant and alert the authorities immediately if they see anyone in distress.

Notes to Editors

The RNLI is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The D class inshore lifeboat (ILB) is highly manoeuvrable and operates closer to shore than the all-weather lifeboats. It is an inflatable boat that comes into its own for rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations. Skegness has had an inshore lifeboat since 1964, after they were introduced to the RNLI.

Since joining the crew in 2019, Martin has progressed from Shore Crew to the position of the Trainee Mechanic of our Shannon class lifeboat and Helm of our D class inshore lifeboat. Outside of the RNLI, Martin spends time with his young family and is the owner of Stokes Electrical.

Becoming a helm of an inshore lifeboat requires additional training with specific exercises and a final assessment by an external RNLI Assessor, which usually takes around two years.

Skegness RNLI is based on Tower Esplanade, Skegness. The lifeboat station was founded in 1825 and the volunteer crew use an all-weather Shannon class lifeboat Joel and April Grunnill and D class lifeboat The Holland Family.

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact:

Brad Johnson, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for lifeboat station RNLI on [email protected]

RNLI Press Office: [email protected]

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Skegness ILB on Water

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Billy Brookes, crew on lifeboat service call

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Craig Hopkins, crew on lifeboat service call

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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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.