School boy Finley Hassall recounts the day he saved a life on RNLI 200 Voices
Finley Hassall, from Kingswinford near Dudley, takes listeners through a first-hand account of the day he saved another boy from drowning on a Cornish beach last summer, in the latest episode of the RNLI’s 200 Voices podcast.
It was whilst on a family holiday with his family in Hayle, Cornwall, that Finley – who was 11 at the time, use the Float to Live technique to help save another young boy from drowning.
Deciding to go bodyboarding with his brother, Finley soon realised something was wrong.
‘I noticed someone in the water splashing around for help. I realised that someone was in trouble because I had this feeling that something was not right… he was splashing around… and he was trying to use his rugby ball to try and float.'
Finley was bodyboarding in chest-high water, but the boy in difficulty was drifting deeper and further out.
‘I started to swim over and as I tread water I said, “Are you OK? Do you need any help?” and he replied, “I can swim but the current is too strong for me.”
‘So I told him, “Float like a starfish”.’
Finley is a strong swimmer having begun swimming lesson at a very young age and for this fifth birthday his nan, who lives by the coast, got him a subscription to the RNLI’s Storm Force magazine.
Remembering the Float to Live message shared by Stormy Stan and his cartoon gang, Finley was able to spot the signs of someone in danger and calmly work out what to do.
‘I knew what to do because it was all thanks to Strom Force. In one of the magazines they taught me how to do it and thanks to my swimming I learnt how to drag him… I put my arms underneath him and took him back to shore until he could find his footing.’
RNLI Lifeguard Guy Potter was soon on scene to help and checked the boy over after Finley had swan him back to shore. Finley recalls what happened when Guy arrived:
‘Once he checked he was OK he said, “Great job, well done for doing this – you’ve just saved someone’s life”… and that’s when I realised I’d actually made a difference.
‘I thought it wasn’t a big deal I just saved someone’s life, I’m just happy he’s OK – but now I realise what I’ve done and how it’s helped out loads of people.'
Finely was congratulated by the RNLI for his lifesaving actions that day when Lifeguard Guy took a visit to his school to present him with a certificate.
Sharing his love of what it means to be part of the Storm Force club, and how a gift from his nan turned him into a lifesaver, Finley said:
‘Being a Storm Force member means that you have magazines… they have crafts in it, stories about what’s happened in the month and little facts to help you if you get into danger.
‘I would recommend Storm Force to other children because it’s great fun, there’s loads of fun crafts to do… and there’s water safety, so if you get in trouble you can take the advice and do what you need to do.’
The RNLI’s 200 Voices podcast is releasing a new episode every day for 200 days, in the run-up to the charity’s bicentenary on 4 March 2024, exploring captivating stories from the charity’s history and through to the current day.
The charity has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1824 and, in that time, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives. Funded by voluntary donations, and with lifeboats crewed by specially-trained volunteers, the RNLI is a truly unique rescue organisation with a remarkable 200-year story to tell – many highlights of which are shared through the podcast series.
Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across the UK and Ireland – and beyond.
To find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary, visit www.RNLI.org/200.
Notes to Editor:
- Listen to episode 71. Future Lifeguard: Finley Hassall.
- Upcoming episode previews are available upon request.
- An audio trailer for 200 Voices can be downloaded here and a video trailer can be downloaded here.
- Find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary at RNLI.org/200.
- Catch up on all previous episodes by visiting RNLI.org/200Voices .
RNLI media contacts
For more information and to find out more about the 200 Voices podcast series and upcoming episodes, contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on [email protected] or 07977 728 315.
Alternatively you can contact the RNLI Press Office on [email protected] or 01202 336789.
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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