‘First lives saved’ thank crew and donor of Exmouth’s Shannon class lifeboat
Young men who had been plucked from the water by crew volunteers after their power boat started sinking, attended the naming ceremony of the lifeboat that helped rescue them, on 9 May at Exmouth lifeboat station.
Crew volunteers had been paged to a report of three people in a power boat with engine problems at 3pm on Sunday 12 April. Deputy Launching Authority, Neil Matson took the decision to launch Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn instead of the D class inshore lifeboat. In the short time it took for shore crew volunteers to launch the lifeboat and for Coxswain Steve Hockings-Thompson and his crew to reach the scene only minutes away, they discovered in fact four casualties in the water with only the tip of the bow pointing out of the sea. With only one lifejacket between them, worn by 13 year old Dan Morton and two casualties unable to swim, speed of the rescue was crucial. The continuous training all crew volunteers had committed to over the last year was put into action swiftly. All four casualties were transferred to an awaiting ambulance and taken to hospital for hyperthermia, near drowning and shock with priority given to two suffering from asthma. Dan’s temperature had dropped dangerously low to 91 degrees F, 10 minutes after being pulled out of the water.
Three of the four casualties attended the naming ceremony of R and J Welburn amongst hundreds of supporters. Niece of Joan Welburn of Sidmouth who had left a generous legacy to provide Lyme Bay with a state-of-the-art lifeboat said her aunt would have been proud to hear that her money had already saved lives at sea.
Owner of the powerboat, Jared Colclough said:
‘We felt we had to come and say thank you in person to the crew volunteers who saved our lives and the donor who provided the Shannon lifeboat. At one point there was a tear in my eye when our story was retold to the crowds. It really brought home how close we were to drowning that day and we’re all keen to respect the water and help others understand the dangers.’
Coxswain Steve Hockings-Thompson explained how effective R and J Welburn’s speed was in the rescue:
‘I’m certain that it could have been a different outcome if it hadn’t have been for two factors: the speed of the Shannon certainly helped get us there in half the time and the efficiency of lifting casualties out of the water using the swinging A frame. The year’s valuable training our dedicated Crew volunteers have committed to on R and J Welburn has really paid off, as four lives were saved in Lyme Bay on that day.’
Volunteer tractor driver, Neil Cannon who drove the launch and recovery system said:
‘That was the first shout I can truly say that the reduced time of launching the lifeboat with this impressive system really made a difference to saving lives. I certainly felt like I did something special that day.’