An 11-year-old schoolboy has been recognised for saving the life of a young boy drowning next to him – after using a method he read about in an RNLI magazine.

Finley Hassall was on holiday with his family, spending the day at Hayle beach in June, when an incident began unfolding around 20 feet from him in the sea, where he was swimming with his dad.

A young boy began struggling and thrashing in the sea, close to drowning, but Finley knew exactly what to do.

Using vital lifesaving advice and the ‘Float to Live’ technique, which he read about in the RNLI’s magazine for young supporters, Finley was able to calm the boy down and get him to shallower water.

Now RNLI lifeguard Guy Potter, who was on duty at Hayle and helped in the rescue, has made the 250-mile journey from Cornwall to Finley’s school in Stourbridge, to congratulate him on his amazing efforts in front of fellow students.

Guy presented him with a certificate to recognise his actions and gave a beach safety presentation during the school assembly to ensure students had the same lifesaving knowledge in case they are planning to visit the coast during the summer holidays.


Guy, who patrols the beaches in Cornwall alongside a career in the film industry, said: "Using the technique and safety messaging that he’d previously learnt, Finley was able to cut through the panic and thrashing around and encouraged the young boy to stay calm, to float on his back like a starfish and aim towards a ball that was in the shallow water.

"Finley did a fantastic job, keeping a clear and calm head in what was quite a terrifying situation.

"It was great to see Finley’s confidence growing as he put together what he’d recalled from the safety messaging and put it into a real-life situation and really make a difference – I can see a future lifeguard in him that’s for sure."

Finley said: "I looked around and saw waves going over this boy’s head and he was splashing and struggling. He was clearly panicking. I’d read in my RNLI Storm Force magazine about how to float like a starfish so that’s what I asked him to do.

"I said I’d done this at my swimming lessons before and it will be fine if he could float on his back. He went onto his back and I was talking to him and trying to get him to take deep breaths to calm him down.

"An RNLI lifeguard soon arrived to check we were both ok and helped find the family of the boy before heading off to help two other people."

As schools prepare to break, RNLI beach lifeguards are expecting to be extremely busy again during the long summer break.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard are reminding families to take care when visiting the coast as new figures reveal that during the school summer holidays last year, of the 41 lives saved 39% were children under 13. In the south west, RNLI lifeguards aided 6,480 people, of which 42% were children, and six of the seven lives saved were children.

Steve Instance, from the RNLI Water Safety team, said: "With an estimated 35 million people planning to visit the UK coast this summer, 11 million of these are predicted to be in the south west region. Our lifeguards will be extremely busy during the school summer holidays with younger children needing assistance more than any other age group.

"To stay safe, we’re reminding families to choose a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags, which is the safest area as it is constantly monitored by our highly-trained lifeguards.

"A simple skill we ask everyone of any age to remember is how to Float to Live if they find themselves in difficulty in the water. Lean back like a starfish, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. This will allow you to control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. The technique has been proven to save lives."

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for seven to 14-year-olds is:

• Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.

• Stay together – Always swim with an adult. Younger children and non-swimmers should always be within arm’s reach.

• Float – If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float on your back like a starfish.

• Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.