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Distressed Person Found After Major Search And Rescue Operation

Lifeboats News Release

A MAJOR search operation involving two RNLI lifeboats, two shore-based rescue teams, Police and a Rescue Helicopter was launched in the early hours of Friday morning after a distressed woman threatened self harm near cliffs at South Shields.

The woman contacted Northumbria Police who then started searching for her in the vicinity of Marsden. Her car was found near cliffs close to Trow Point and police then requested assistance from UK Coastguard.

Both Tynemouth RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats were requested to launch at 01:15 to join the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team who were tasked to search for the woman on shore with police officers. A UK Coastguard Rescue Helicopter was scrambled from its Humberside Airport base.

The RNLI lifeboats searched along the shore from Trow Point along to the South Tyne pier while the shore teams worked their way along the cliff tops and beaches.

After the search had been ongoing for nearly an hour the woman again contacted police who were able to work out her approximate location, close to Target Rock which is at the southern end of Sandhaven beach. As the lifeboats and shore teams converged on the position, Police officers confirmed that the woman had been found hiding in long grass near to the cliff edge and had been secured from coming to any harm.

UK Coastguard operators at their Humber Operations Centre were satisfied there was no danger of the woman or any of the other rescuers entering the water and stood the lifeboats down at 02:20.

The operation to get the woman to safety continued and the Coastguard Rescue helicopter arrived soon after, landing on the cliff top to allow their paramedic to assist the rescue teams in stretchering the woman off the cliff to a waiting ambulance.

Once the casualty was in the ambulance and on her way to hospital, the remaining search teams were stood down at 02:50.

Adrian Don, Spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: 'All of the search teams worked in harmony, coordinated by UK Coastguard, to effect an efficient and thorough search for the distressed person who was thankfully found before any harm came to her.

'We would urge anyone who is in distress, whatever they're going through, to consider calling Samaritans at any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is completely free to call and won’t show up on a phone bill), email, or visit to find details of their nearest branch'.


For more information: Please contact Adrian Don, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07834 731833 or at

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland