Respect the Water: Hearing from survivors

Last year, the Respect the Water Team set a bold and ambitious aim for our Respect the Water campaign – to directly help save one life.
Litening to the RNLI's Respect the Water messages helped save Andrew and Enda's lives

Photo: Nathan Williams/RNLI

The team were very proud to share with staff members and volunteers that seven people said that their lives were saved with the help of the floating advice they learnt from the campaign. This year, the RNLI can share the stories of some of these people to help save more lives. Please feel free to share these stories with your friends, family members and people you meet. We can all help to save lives by sharing stories and the Respect the Water campaign messages.

Enda capsized into icy water

‘I just had a moment of calm and remembered the Float to Live video … I knew then I was okay.’

Enda Lonergan capsized while kayaking last year. Enda told the RNLI that he was able to use his knowledge of the Respect the Water float messaging to stay calm until help arrived. You can listen to Enda’s story here:

‘I was in a kayak when the wake of a passing boat made me suddenly capsize into the choppy water. Fortunately I was wearing a buoyancy aid, but I was immediately struck with panic. The more I flayed around, the further away from the kayak I was getting. It was quite frightening and astonishing how, in a matter of seconds, I was 20 yards or more from the kayak and totally helpless.

'Then I just had a moment of calm, and the only image I could see was the one in the Float to Live video and I just stopped moving everything. I started bobbing up and down in the waves – and I knew then I was okay. Within two minutes or so, the rescue boat was beside me.’

Andrew was pulled away from his windsurfing kit

'I remembered to stay calm and not fight the water. I believe the RNLI saved my life that day.’

Andrew Gilbert went out windsurfing in a storm off Hove beach when he got separated from his kit. Thankfully Andrew had seen the Respect the Water ‘Float to Live’ messaging and was able to fight his instincts and stay calm by floating.

'When I saw the kit go over the horizon, I thought: “That’s it, I’m not getting back.” Emotion kicks in, your heart rate starts to increase and you start to panic. I started to think about my family.

'I remember watching the videos on Facebook for Respect the Water and the thing that stuck out for me, was to float. I consider myself very lucky – I watched the footage back of that day and I was even convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get back. The only reason I’m alive is because I remembered to float, stay calm and try not to fight the water. I believed the RNLI saved my life that day.’

You can listen to Andrew tell his story here:

What to do when you hear stories of lives being saved

If you hear of a story where someone has used the floating technique effectively or the RNLI’s float advice has helped to save their life, the Respect the Water Team would like to know about it. Please email with the details, and one of the team will get back to you. Or feel free to pass on this email address for the person to get in touch directly with their story.

Please note that it’s important to follow this process. By sending the person to this email address, it will mean that the RNLI can comply with data safety regulations, follow GDPR guidelines but most importantly that they will be looked after as we have to maintain a duty of care. Once you have passed on the story, please delete any personal details of the story from your own records.

For more information about what to do when you hear a story, please click here.