Two youngsters from Mark near Burnham-On-Sea showed tremendous courage when they rushed to the aid of a struggling swimmer in the sea during a Cornwall holiday last month.
Gabriel Baldegger and Joe Neeve aged 15 were enjoying an evening on the beach at Perran Sands in Cornwall on 9th August when they become aware of a body boarder in trouble.
The man had been swept out 100 metres from the shore by a rip tide – a strong offshore current which moves directly away from the shore.
The boys swam out to try to help the man as onlookers on the beach contacted the RNLI.
Gabriel and Joe were holding the man afloat whilst swimming back to the beach when all three were picked up by the St. Agnes Lifeboat.
In a letter sent to Gabriel and Joe after the incident from the man they rescued, he described them as ‘heroes’.
His wife, who had been looking on from the shore with her three young children, also expressed her gratitude calling them ‘thoughtful and selfless.’
The crew of the St. Agnes lifeboat said the boys would be ‘welcome on any RNLI team’ and praised them for calming the stricken body boarder.
Whilst commending the boys’ willingness to assist a swimmer in peril, they are keen to make beachgoers aware of the dangers of swimming out to someone caught in a rip tide, saying ‘we always urge people to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they see someone in difficulty in the water, rather than going in themselves.’
An RNLI spokesperson said: “We completely understand that the boys had the absolute best of intentions and commend them for this.”
“Our crew members have said that the boys were able to calm the first casualty and this was helpful. As a rescue organisation, time and time again we sadly see people who get into difficulty themselves when trying to rescue others, sometimes with the most tragic consequences.”
“We are so glad that this rescue had a happy ending, but it is thought that all three lives were saved, which shows the potential danger they were in.”
“That is why we always urge people to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they see someone in difficulty in the water, rather than going in themselves. It is definitely a positive thing that the boys saw someone in trouble and wanted to help, which is why it’s important that we spread the message that the best thing to do in a coastal emergency is to call 999. It is lovely to hear that they have stayed in touch.”