Lifeguards have been involved in a mass rescue at a Cornish beach.

It was after ten people got into difficulty in the water and were dragged outside the red and yellow flags, with another person also getting caught in a strong rip current shortly afterwards.

And in what proved to be a busy week for the lifeguards, they also had to deal with eight lost children in the space of one day.

Newquay RNLI lifeguards have dealt with multiple rescues, assists and lost children since the beginning of the summer holidays.

They included a mass rescue last week (Monday, July 25) at Fistral beach. Lifeguards were carrying out a routine patrol when they suddenly spotted a group of bathers in danger in the water waving for help.

Nine bodyboarders and one swimmer were dragged approximately 75 metres out to sea in a strong prevailing rip current, outside of the red and yellow flags.

RNLI lifeguards Roddy Brook and Zion Pettigrove picked up a rescue board each and immediately entered the water, paddling quickly to the group’s aid. When they arrived on scene, the lifeguards worked together paddling back and forth, returning the ten casualties safely to shore.

  • Video: RNLI

Due to the smaller (neap) tides, coupled with multiple sand holes and trenches across the beach, the currents remained strong and relentless throughout the day, contributing to dangerous sea conditions across the entire stretch of coast.

Senior RNLI lifeguard Arron Evans said: "This was a mass rescue which involved two of our lifeguards going back and forth on rescue boards and RNLI lifeguard Angel Daimay also supporting them on the shoreline – it was an amazing team effort in challenging sea conditions.

"These conditions prove just how powerful rip currents can be and how suddenly the sea state can change. As professional lifeguards, we have the local knowledge of rip currents and areas that are renowned for being dangerous so we always prepare and assess according to the conditions which constantly change throughout the day.


"During a mass rescue, it’s so important to keep an eye on the wider picture so immediately after this incident we made the decision to red flag the entire beach and reassess the sea conditions.

"After careful consideration we decided to open a small bathing area so we could keep a condensed vision and advise anybody who entered the water to remain at waist-depth and keep a close eye on whoever they were in the water with."

Shortly after the beach was re-opened, Arron Evans launched the Rescue Water Craft (RWC) to constantly patrol the bathing area and advise the public to remain close to shore. Arron then spotted another person in difficulty shouting for help – a strong rip current had pulled them out to sea and they were struggling to swim back to shore.

The casualty, Darren Callander, said of his experience: "As a family we have been visiting Cornwall for the past five years and with two children, now aged 12 and 13, having RNLI lifeguards present on the beaches we visit gives us great peace of mind.

‘Thankfully, up until last week we have never needed their assistance; however, last week the speed in which the lifeguard came to my rescue was incredibly quick and I cannot thank them all enough for the care I received that day, it was greatly appreciated.

"Who knows what the outcome would have been if the RNLI hadn't been on the beach that day to help me."

Fistral RNLI lifeguards also helped a surfer on Sunday who suddenly felt his blood sugar level rapidly drop and as a result began to lose consciousness. Thankfully, the surfer continued to lie down hugging his surfboard as a floatation device.

Two people spotted the casualty floating on a surfboard and quickly swam over to them. They held his head up out of the water and the entire surfing line-up nearby waved for help.

RNLI lifeguard, Riley Mee, immediately launched the RWC and picked up the surfer on the back of the rescue sled. Fortunately, he had regained consciousness whilst still in the water and after providing casualty care the lifeguards called 999 and requested an ambulance for further assessment.

In addition to rescuing casualties getting into difficulty in the water, on Monday RNLI lifeguards at Fistral also dealt with eight missing children, which included children as young as four years old. Thankfully all of them were quickly reunited with their families and very grateful for the lifeguards’ care.

With the summer holidays in full swing and another spell of sunny weather looming, the RNLI is urging beachgoers to be vigilant when entering the water and always keep a close eye on your family, both on the beach and in the water.

If you get caught in a rip current:

  • Swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
  • Do not try to swim against the rip current or you’ll get exhausted
  • Always raise your hand and shout for help

If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live: fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float.

In an emergency dial 999/112 and ask for the Coastguard.