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Sharp-eyed Suffolk RNLI lifeguard rescues boy caught in rip current

Lifeboats News Release

When a young boy became caught in a dangerous rip current off Lowestoft beach, Senior RNLI Lifeguard Hal Tooley wasted no time in diving into the water and going to the rescue.

RNLI lifeguard Hal Tooley, who rescued a young swimmer caught in a rip current at Lowestoft.

RNLI/Paul Dunt

RNLI lifeguard Hal Tooley, who rescued a young swimmer caught in a rip current at Lowestoft.

Nineteen-year-old Hal had been diligently watching swimmers at the beach when he spotted the boy had got into difficulty while swimming about 50 metres outside the RNLI patrolled zone, which is marked by red and yellow flags.

The boy, who was about 150ft offshore, had climbed onto a groyne in panic and was in a distressed state. Hal took to the water with a lifeguard rescue tube and had to convince the boy to get back into the water so he could clip him into the tube.

He was then able to tow the young swimmer safely back to shore where the pair were met by the boy’s distraught father and a round of applause from members of the public who had witnessed the rescue.

‘This incident shows how quickly swimmers can get into difficulty, particularly where rip currents occur,’ said Lifeguard supervisor Liam Fayle-Parr. ‘It was high tide at the time and the current was pulling the boy around the end of the groyne into deeper water, and it was too strong for the boy to swim against.’

Liam praised Hal, who lives in Lowestoft, for his quick-thinking and for spotting the incident which took place outside the RNLI patrolled zone on Thursday 17 August at around 5pm.

‘Hal has been with us for several seasons now and is a brilliant lifeguard,’ Liam said. ‘He is a really strong swimmer and is incredibly dedicated to his job’.

‘It was very fortunate that he spotted the swimmer outside the zone and we would always advise people to swim within the red and yellow flags which mark the area covered by our lifeguards,’ Liam added.

RNLI lifeguards currently patrol more than 240 beaches in the UK and Channel Islands and last year saved 127 lives. As well as rescuing people from the water they also receive extensive training in responding to medical emergencies. In total the charity’s lifeguards attended 17,414 incidents last year helping 20, 538 people.

Photo caption 1: RNLI lifeguard Hal Tooley, who rescued a young swimmer caught in a rip current at Lowestoft.

RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825, paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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 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

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