Minehead RNLI lifeboats to the rescue as swan flies away
Two young holidaymakers carried out to sea on an inflatable were rescued thanks to the rapid intervention by RNLI crews from Minehead.
The station’s Atlantic 85 and D class lifeboats were launched around 3.30pm today (1 June) after the girls, aged five, were swept away from the beach by an offshore wind.
They had been sitting on an inflatable swan held in the shallows by the father of one of them when the line slipped through his hands.
Volunteer lifeboat helm Phil Sanderson said before he had time to react the wind had pushed the inflatable several yards away.
'He waded into the water and tried to swim out to them but the thing was just moving too quickly and he couldn’t get near it,' he said.
'He did exactly the right thing: he shouted to the girls to stay on the inflatable and then the family dialled 999.'
The lifeboats were on scene within a few minutes and were joined by a coastguard helicopter which had been on exercise in the area.
Phil Sanderson said by the time the lifeboats arrived the inflatable was almost half a mile offshore - and still moving rapidly seawards.
'Clearly the girls were very frightened by then but we soon had them aboard and reunited with their family,' he said
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 over 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.