Littlehampton RNLI rescue three children who had been swept into the river Arun

Lifeboats News Release

Littlehampton’s RNLI volunteer crews were alerted to the plight of three boys trapped by the rising tide near the harbour entrance on the evening of Tuesday 30 May 2023.

A picture of the B Class lifeboat Renee Sherman in the river with her crew

RNLI/Anthony Fogg

Littlehampton RNLI’s B-Class inshore lifeboat ‘Renee Sherman’ was used in the rescue (Stock photo)

At 6.41pm HM Coastguard requested assistance from Littlehampton’s lifeboat crews to launch following reports of children shouting for help and who were holding on to the harbour walls, known locally as ‘the west works’, on the western side of the river. The river Arun is one of the fastest flowing rivers in the UK and even the strongest swimmer can be swept along by the dangerous and turbulent currents. The station’s B-Class lifeboat Renee Sherman launched and headed down river towards the sea where they were able to locate three boys, who had been struggling against the tidal currents and strong offshore breezes, immediately recovering them to safety.

The lifeboat, crew and casualties returned back up river to the RNLI boathouse at Fisherman’s Quay. As a precaution South East Coast Ambulance and HM Coastguard volunteers also attended. Fortunately the casualties were unharmed, just suffering from the effects of a prolonged time in the cold waters.

The recent Bank Holiday weekend and half term accompanied by warmer weather, sunny blue skies and longer days has attracted many people to the seaside. The sea can be great fun for a variety of water based activities, but it’s important to be aware of the associated potential dangers.

The seawater around the Sussex coast is currently a cool 12oC. It is important to also be aware of the tides, wave conditions and wind direction. Strong offshore winds, as has been experienced on the Sussex coast all week, bring with them the risk that if in or on the water you may not be able to make it back to the beach.

Simon Tann, Duty Launch Authority at Littlehampton lifeboat station for this incident said:

‘Falling in to the water unexpectedly can induce cold water shock which is potentially fatal if a casualty is unable to stay buoyant and ingests water. Additionally, swimming for an extended period can also cause the body to cool down to dangerous levels. The RNLI recommend that if you fall in the water or find yourself struggling in the water remember the advice Float to Live. It’s simple, it works. We were delighted to assist these casualties from the dangers of the river to the safety of the shore and we thank the members of the public who called 999 asking for the Coastguard to alert the emergency services to the incident.’

Further details on how to save your life if you fall in the water can be found at

Lifeguarded beaches where safe swimming areas are denoted by red and yellow flags can be found during the summer season at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton East Beach. For further details on these and other lifeguarded beaches around the UK check out the online information at


Notes to editors

Littlehampton RNLI’s volunteer crew look after the stretch of the West Sussex coast between Bognor Regis and Worthing. Littlehampton RNLI is independent from the Coastguard. To find out more about Littlehampton RNLI,


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Anthony Fogg, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, Littlehampton RNLI 07823 509032 [email protected]

Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer, London and South East 07785 296252 [email protected]

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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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