Jestski pilot helps rescue three people and their dogs in race against tide

Family saved by public and RNLI

Jetski to the rescue. Credit: RNLI.Org

A truly multi-faceted rescue took place earlier this week when three people and their dogs were saved in a rescue that involved a jetski, two kayaks, the RNLI and a squirrel.

On Sunday, May 21, Fleetwood regular, Leigh Woolliscroft from Clayton le Moors together with her friend, and her nine-year-old daughter took their dogs for a walk but became cut off by the tide.

By the time they’d started their return, volunteers from National Coastwatch, based at the Rossall Point tower, had already sounded the alarm and contacted HM Coastguard.

Leigh says: ‘I’ve been coming to Fleetwood with the dogs for many years and as it was such a nice day we just went that little bit further and thought we had at least an hour to get back.

‘What we didn’t realise is that the tide here comes in from three different directions. Before too long we were stranded, my friend can’t swim so was really panicking and my daughter was terrified.’

Before long the family were cut off from the shore and it was becoming a serious situation with time rapidly running out.

Alan Bates, a local jet-skier, realised the danger and rushed to their aid. He was quickly joined by two people in kayaks, who also hurried to the scene.

While they waited for the lifeboat to arrive the volunteers helped keep the young girl afloat as well as the couple.

Once the RNLI arrived the family along with their pets, were helped into the safety of the lifeboat and returned to shore.

A grateful Leigh added: ‘We only live 40 minutes from Fleetwood, but I can honestly say I didn’t have a clue what the RNLI really did until we needed them.

‘I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for what they did. It’s amazing to think they are volunteers. They were absolutely fantastic and thankfully we’re all fine. My daughter was taken to hospital for a check-up, but was later discharged, but we’re well aware things could have been very different.’

On a lighter note, a surprise was waiting for all concerned when they got back to Fleetwood. Emergency crews expect the unexpected, however, there’s nothing in the training manual that could have prepared them for a stowaway in the form of a squirrel.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Captain David Eccles said: ‘Whilst being called to rescue people cut off by the tide is a regular occurrence for the volunteer crew, I can honestly say we’ve never been welcomed back to station by a squirrel.

‘It certainly raised everyone’s spirits after a challenging rescue. This really was an amazing multi-agency rescue and I’m incredibly proud of our volunteer crew. I’d also like to thank Alan, who undoubtedly helped save lives.

He went on to praise everyone in what was undoubtedly a team effort: ‘The intervention by members of the public, was vital and they undoubtedly made a major contribution in the rescue. Had they not spotted the family in danger, or not been in the right place at the right time, the outcome could have been very different.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.