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Swimmer in difficulties at Southport rescued by 16-year-old RNLI lifeguard

Lifeguards News Release

A 16-year-old RNLI lifeguard saved a man’s life at Southport last night (Tuesday 18 July) when he swam 200 metres out to sea, recovered the struggling swimmer onto a rescue board and brought him back to the beach.

The multi-agency response to the incident included RNLI lifeguards, Southport lifeboat, coastguards and paramedics.

Southport Lifeboat

The multi-agency response to the incident included RNLI lifeguards, Southport lifeboat, coastguards and paramedics.

The incident happened near Southport Pier at 6pm, just after the lifeguards had carried out their last patrols. The Coastguard received a call to say a man was in difficulties in the water. The RNLI lifeguards were alerted, along with Southport Lifeboat and the local coastguard team.

RNLI Lifeguard Matthew Johnson, who started work with the lifesaving charity less than two weeks ago, swam out to rescue the man.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Richard Goodacre said: ‘Matthew is a very strong swimmer and made swift work of reaching the man, even though he was about 200 metres out from the beach. A second lifeguard, Kieran Leith, assisted him to bring the casualty back to the beach, where members of the Southport Lifeboat team also helped with the recovery.

‘The man was handed over to paramedics on the beach and transferred to hospital by ambulance.’

‘Matthew did a brilliant job on his first major rescue and we are very proud of him. Until recently he was studying for his AS levels at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, but the training he has received from the RNLI made sure he was able to rescue the man and bring him safely back to shore.’

* Respect the Water, the charity’s national drowning prevention campaign, is encouraging people to fight their instincts to thrash around or swim if they get into difficulties in the sea. Instead, float and rest for 60-90 seconds until cold water shock passes. This allows time to catch your breath before trying to swim to safety or call for help.

Media contacts

For more information, contact Alison Levett, RNLI PR Manager, on 07786 668912 /

Picture caption

The multi-agency response to the incident included RNLI lifeguards, Southport lifeboat, coastguards and paramedics. Credit Southport Lifeboat.

Matthew Johnson

RNLI/Richard Goodacre

Matthew Johnson

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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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