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Grateful mum sends heartfelt thanks to Fleetwood RNLI rescuers

Lifeboats News Release

Leigh Woolliscroft from Clayton le Moors says she is eternally grateful to the RNLI for coming to the rescue when she, a friend, her nine-year-old daughter and their dogs became cut off by the tide.

The message of thanks comes as the RNLI release dramatic rescue footage of the incident at the weekend, which in a bizarre twist, includes a squirrel scrambling onboard the lifeboat.

A multi-agency rescue was launched on Sunday involving volunteers from Fleetwood RNLI, National Coastwatch and HM Coastguard, as well as members of the public.

After setting off on a walk with their dogs, the party suddenly realised they were in danger of being cut off by the Spring tide and attempted to head back to shore. By the time they’d started their return, volunteers from National Coastwatch, based at the Rossall Point tower, had already contacted HM Coastguard and alerted them of the impending incident.

Leigh says:

‘I’ve been coming to Fleetwood with the dogs for many years and as it was such a nice day we just went that little bit further and thought we had at least an hour to get back. What we didn’t realise it that the tide her comes in from three different directions. Before too long we were stranded, my friend can’t swim so was really panicking and my daughter was terrified.’

As the Coastguard arrived near the Marine Lake, it was clear the family were now cut off from the shore and it was turning into a race against time to return them to safety.

As Fleetwood RNLI launched their D-class inshore lifeboat, ‘Harbet,’ local jet-skier, Alan Bates, realised the family were in danger and rushed to their aid. He was quickly joined by two people in kayaks, who also hurried to help. They helped keep the young girl afloat and gave buoyancy to the couple as the lifeboat negotiated the rapidly disappearing sandbanks, to avoid running aground.

Once the RNLI were on scene, the family along with their pets, were helped into the safety of the lifeboat and returned to shore.

Leigh adds:

‘We only live 40 minutes from Fleetwood, but I can honestly say I didn’t have a clue what the RNLI really did until we needed them. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for what they did. It’s amazing to think they are volunteers. They were absolutely fantastic and thankfully we’re all fine. My daughter was taken to hospital for a check up, but was later discharged, but we’re well aware things could have been very different.’

In a bizarre turn of events, the RNLI crew were congratulated by a very unusual visitor on their return to Fleetwood. The crew are trained to expect the unexpected, however they were certainly not expecting to find a squirrel scrambling around the all-weather lifeboat on their return to the station.

Captain David Eccles, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Fleetwood RNLI said:

‘Whilst being called to rescue people cut off by the tide is a regular occurrence for the volunteer crew, I can honestly say we’ve never been welcomed back to station by a squirrel. It certainly raised everyone’s spirits after a challenging rescue. This really was an amazing multi-agency rescue and I’m incredibly proud of our volunteer crew. I’d also like to thank Alan, who undoubtedly helped save lives.

‘The important early information from the volunteers at Coastwatch ensured we were able to help this family in time. The intervention by members of the public, was vital and they undoubtedly made a major contribution in the rescue. Had they not spotted the family in danger, or not been in the right place at the right time, the outcome could have been very different. This is our second rescue in a week at this particular place and we urge the public to check tide times before walking out on the sandbanks.’

The RNLI advises people to always check the weather and tides before setting out.

Notes to editors

· Fleetwood lifeboat station has been operating since 1859. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to:

· Coxswain Daryl Randles is available for interview

· Video footage of the rescue is available.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Ken Harcombe, Fleetwood RNLI Volunteer Press Officer, on 07970 197195 / [email protected] Danielle Rush, RNLI Regional Media Manager, West, on 07786 668829/ [email protected]. Or, Claire Elshaw, RNLI Regional Media Officer West, on 07468 353082 / [email protected]


A multi-agency rescue was launched on Sunday involving volunteers from Fleetwood RNLI, National Coastwatch and HM Coastguard, as well as members of the public.


A multi-agency rescue was launched on Sunday involving volunteers from Fleetwood RNLI, National Coastwatch and HM Coastguard, as well as members of the public.

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.