Sidmouth woman saved in dramatic rescue

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 18 June 2010

A DRAMATIC sea rescue this week has prompted new calls for a lifeguard service in Sidmouth. Shirley Sargent, 38, said if it wasn t for the help of Becky Dickinson and Sidmouth Lifeboat she would have drowned after being swept away to sea in her kayak on

A DRAMATIC sea rescue this week has prompted new calls for a lifeguard service in Sidmouth.

Shirley Sargent, 38, said if it wasn't for the help of Becky Dickinson and Sidmouth Lifeboat she would have drowned after being swept away to sea in her kayak on Tuesday.

The mum-of-three got into trouble at around 3.30pm when the offshore wind sucked her away from safety.

"I was getting further and further out to sea," said Shirley.

"I was screaming and shouting and waving my hands frantically but no one could hear me. I thought I was going to die."

Becky, 23, who was revising in her flat overlooking Sidmouth beach saw Shirley waving for help and ran to the Lifeboat Station.

The tourism management student, said: "There were already quite a few people there who had told the lifeboat men what was happening.

"I went to the beach and the woman looked like she was in quite a bit of trouble so I swam out to her."

Shirley managed to grab onto a rock and Becky stayed with her until Tony Golds of Sidmouth Lifeboat brought them back to safety.

The Pride of Sidmouth was then launched to bring the kayak back to shore.

Shirley said: "Becky was absolutely amazing. When we got back to the shore it was such a relief and I couldn't even speak."

Following the incident Becky and Shirley are appealing for a beach service in the summer months.

Shirley added: "Sidmouth Lifeboat crew were brilliant but they have to launch the boat from the other end of the beach. If I hadn't been a strong swimmer I think I would've drowned."

Guy Russell, Becky's boyfriend, has rescued several people over the years off Sidmouth's coast.

The 26-year-old said: "I think there could be an aspect of voluntary service we could organise coupled with the offshore service."

East Devon District Council did fund a lifeguard service on Sidmouth beach but withdrew it in 2005 after conducting a 'prioritisation exercise'.

An EDDC spokesperson said in 2004 the lifeguard service cost £55,600 and cover was only provided from 10am-5.30pm in summer months.

She said: "It is incumbent on us all to act responsibly and not to take unnecessary risks, particularly where the sea is concerned.


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