‘I’m here to celebrate Father’s Day this year because the RNLI saved my life’
A kayaker is thanking the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for saving his life after the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew pulled him from the waves on Father’s Day last year.
Grandad Glenn Bradley was enjoying the good weather and calm conditions in Cloughey Bay, Northern Ireland, with his wife, Jo, on their kayaks when she capsized.
Unable to get back on board, Jo swam to shore while Glenn tried to retrieve her boat, which was being blown out to sea by a rapidly increasing offshore wind.
Glenn said: ‘I was lashing the kayaks together to tow hers back in when I realised the wind had picked up and I was about 400 metres offshore, and I just could not get back in.
‘I waved my paddle left to right in the air to signal to Jo that I was in distress as I was getting blown further and further out.’
Realising he was fighting a losing battle, Glenn turned out to sea, spotted a rocky outcrop and made a desperate bid to paddle to it.
He said: ‘I just thought, “I’ve got to stay in this boat as long as possible and hope to get rescued,” and I was just stabbing at the water trying to stay afloat when I saw North Rock, put my head down and went for it.’
After capsizing in the huge swells 50 metres short of the tiny island, he made it to the shore dragging his kayak behind him and collapsing, exhausted.
A volunteer crew from Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat had launched after Jo’s 999 call, and shortly after Glenn made it to North Rock, they arrived.
Glenn was picked up from the waves and returned to shore where his family was waiting – even making it back in time for their Father’s Day meal.
Glenn said: ‘When I saw those unsung heroes of the RNLI appear on the horizon, I just felt relief.
‘I made it to the restaurant that night, and I’m only here to celebrate Father’s Day this year thanks to the RNLI. They saved my life.’
An experienced kayaker, Glenn ordinarily would not take to the waves without a lifejacket and a means of calling for help, but, thinking he would be in and out quickly, he had been caught out by the quick change in conditions.
Sam Hughes from the RNLI Water Safety Team said: ‘Luckily, due to his experience on a kayak and his wife’s quick thinking in calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard, the outcome was a happy one for Glenn and his family on Father’s Day.
‘Even experienced kayakers get caught out, so we recommend anyone heading out on a kayak always checks the tide times and weather forecast, wears a buoyancy aid and takes a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch.’
In 2022, RNLI lifesavers – lifeguards and lifeboat crew – came to the aid of 535 kayakers and canoeists, saving 24 lives.
The RNLI’s key safety advice for anyone kayaking or canoeing is:
· Take a means of calling for help as part of your kit and keep it on you, within reach, at all times
· Wear a suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid
· Always check the weather forecast and sea conditions before you set off
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
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