Blackpool’s lifeboat volunteers share heroics with world on BBC

Alan Gilchrist (L) and Shaun Wright from Blackpool RNLI
Alan Gilchrist (L) and Shaun Wright from Blackpool RNLI
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Volunteers at Blackpool’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution shared their heroics with the world as they took to the big screen in a BBC One documentary

Saving Lives at Sea, which aired tonight, gave viewers an up-close demonstration of how lifeboat volunteers put their lives at risk every time they respond to a call.

The show opened with Blackpool’s own crew heading out on an intrepid rescue after receiving reports of a fully-clothed woman swimming out to sea.

RNLI volunteer Danny - a building contractor by day - said: “We have our fair share of mental health problems in Blackpool.

“It was quite a ways out but she wasn’t in difficulties. She was quite happily swimming around - she wasn’t trying to drown herself.

“She didn’t want to go into the boat. She wanted to carry on swimming.”

Cameras flashed to the woman - called Lindi - swimming out to sea declaring: “I’m going to Jesus.”

She later said: “I remember leaving the house. The sea is only a five minute walk from where I live, but how I got there I don’t know.

“Life’s events and depression and anxiety can hit you at any time. There’s only so much people can take.

“I think I’m in a really good place because I’m talking about it more.”

Dedicated volunteers from Torbay, Tower, Oban, Newquay, Eastbourne and Brighton also showed their bravery, as they battled to save a struggling spearfishman, an elderly schoolteacher who had waded into rising tides to save her dogs, and a family of six trapped inside their own home during a flood.

Further footage showed a Blackpool crew of three battling three-metre waves near Blackpool’s North Pier when their own lifeboat capsized - trapping one life-long volunteer, electrician Darren, underneath the boat.

He was rescued by chance by fellow RNLI volunteer Shaun, a train driver, who was alerted to the danger by a special red flare fired by Kyle, an undertaker, who had been thrown into the waves when Darren’s boat capsized.

He said: “I have never seen a crew fire their red flare off until then. We weren’t expecting to rescue one of our own.”

Darren and his savior also made a special guest appearance on popular talk show The One Show, along with other RNLI volunteers.

When asked by host Matt Baker how long he was trapped underneath the boat, Darren replied: “No more than a minute and 10 seconds” - adding that he was fully conscious the whole time.

He said: “People want to help. If it wasn’t for people volunteering it would be a hard job getting people to go to sea.

Shaun said: “We’re an island nation. There will always be people going out to sea, so hopefully there’ll always be a lifeboat service to save them.”

Saving Lives at Sea will continue next week on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday.