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'Thank you for saving my life,' A Special Thank you for Cullercoats RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

While the crew were finishing up after training this morning, (Sunday 2nd September), they had an unexpected and heartwarming visit from Tia Smith, her family and friends.

A Thank you for the crew - Cullercoats crew in front of Cullercoats Lifeboat

RNLI/Ross Moore

A Thank you for the crew
On Saturday 19th May this year, Cullercoats Lifeboat crew saved Tia's life after she was swept out to sea from Sandhaven Beach in South Shields. The crew had been tasked to the scene, where several teenagers were thought to be in danger. On arrival, one sharp-eyed crewman happened to look out to sea and caught sight of what he thought was a person around 700m from the shore. When they investigated, they found Tia, floating just under the surface. She was immediately brought on to the lifeboat and found to be conscious but extremely cold. They crew also discovered that she couldn't swim. Tynemouth RNLI cared for Tia's friends, who had managed to scramble up the beach. Members of Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were also tasked by the Coastguard to assist on shore while a police helicopter also searched the area.

Ben Bradshaw, Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat helm, said at the time: 'The girl we pulled from the water was extremely lucky as she was a long way from the beach and difficult to spot, and if we hadn't already been launching to another less urgent service we may not have reached her in time to save her.'

Tia returned to the lifeboat station today with her family and friends to say thank you to the crew once again for saving her life and to inform them that she has done some fundraising for the RNLI. Tia also plans to do a charity event in the future in aid of the RNLI. Thank you, Tia, for your hard work and for your visit!

Written by Anna Heslop, Cullercoats Lifeboat Crew Member and Press Officer,

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


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