Sidmouth beach to get its own lifeguards

PUBLISHED: 13:05 11 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:44 12 June 2018

A view of Sidmouth beach looking west. Ref shs 4052-36-14SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A view of Sidmouth beach looking west. Ref shs 4052-36-14SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Sidmouth will be getting fully-trained lifeguards this summer to keep the town’s beachgoers safer than they have ever been before.

Tourists flock to Sidmouth beach. Picture: Alex Walton Tourists flock to Sidmouth beach. Picture: Alex Walton

Funding for the town to have its very own lifeguard service every day throughout the six-week holidays has been secured by Sidmouth Lifeboat.

The charity, which already offers an on-call emergency service, hopes to pay for two lifeguards to be based on Clifton Beach – one on a fixed patrol and one roaming - creating between four and six jobs. It is hoped, if all goes well, the service could be extended to other busy periods in the year.

Sidmouth Lifeboat senior coxswain Guy Russell said the town had not had lifeguards in a long time. And, according to East Devon District Council’s website, if a beach does not have lifeguards, people should not be swimming.

Guy added: “It has been highlighted that there is a need in Sidmouth - last year there were two incidents where it was very much a rescue - two girls got pulled out to sea and without the off-duty lifeboat crew it would have been a different story. Five guys also came down with a rubber dingy, ignored advice and got into a world of trouble and washed out over Chit Rocks.

Crews from Sidmouth Lifeboat. Crews from Sidmouth Lifeboat.

“With the terrain the swimmers were in, the lifeboat wouldn’t have been able to get in there. Sometimes the best rescue technique is a lifeguard on a rescue board.”

Guy said there were 240 lifeguarded beaches in the UK and in 2016 they helped 20,000 people, saving 127 lives. He added: “We are not talking about having a massively powerful presence on the beach or having loud quad bikes and pick-up trucks. We want to keep it in Sidmouth and keep it low-key and humble, more as a community advice help point – with the added bonus of having fully-trained lifeguards. They say a dry lifeguard is a good lifeguard - and if they can prevent something from happening before it happens, then they are doing their job well.”

Guy said the lifeguards want to be a point for education and advice, making people feel welcome and that they can ask for help easily.

He added they would be working closely with the coastguard, Sidmouth Town Council, Sidmouth Surf Life Saving Club and the RNLI. Jobs will at first be offered to members of the Sidmouth Surf Life Saving Club.

Guy Russell. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 4477-42-10AW Guy Russell. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 4477-42-10AW

“We want to do something with a real humble, community-friendly feel,” said Guy.

Sidmouth Lifeboat has also welcomed the addition of a £9,000 ‘rescue ski’ - see page 3.

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