Sea survivor thanks rescue heroes

A stock image of RNLI volunteers in action

A stock image of RNLI volunteers in action

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A Blackpool man has said a very special thank you to the rescuers who saved his life after he fell into the sea while fishing.

Lucky survivor Darren Gillies, 48, is set to make a £930 donation to the heroes who saved his life.

Lucky escape: Darren Gillies

Lucky escape: Darren Gillies

Mr Gillies, who lives in South Shore, was fishing off the shore of Anchorsholme in July when he slipped on a rock and plunged into the water.

He struggled to stay afloat for several minutes before being rescued by volunteers from Blackpool’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station and taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital by air ambulance.

Mr Gillies suffered secondary drowning caused by breathing water into the lungs.

He said: “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive today.

“I was in the water for about five minutes, I couldn’t get my feet on the ground. When my friend found me my face was completely blue.

“A lifeboat volunteer had to wade through the water to put a foil blanket on me to stop the hypothermia.

“I have heart problems and I wouldn’t have been able to get off the beach if it wasn’t for them. I was so exhausted.

“I was just focused on trying to get some air into my lungs.”

Mr Gillies organised a charity fishing event on December 27 along with his friends Glyn Hopkins and Phillip DaSilva to raise money for the RNLI and North West Air Ambulance service to thank them for the rescue.

He successfully raised more than £930, which will be split between the two services.

He said: “I hope it will help to save somebody else’s life.

“I know that the air ambulance needs fuel for the helicopters and the RNLI needs donations for equipment.”

Shaun Wright, a lifeboat driver at Blackpool RNLI, said: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant. The RNLI is a charity which depends solely on contributions to keep going, whether that’s time or money, and it’s brilliant that Darren has decided to donate to us as a way of thanking us.

“On behalf of Blackpool RNLI I would like to say a big thank you to him.”