During the summer break, two students from Taunton School showed tremendous courage when they rushed to the aid of a struggling swimmer in the Cornish sea.
On 9th August, Gabriel Baldegger and Joe Neeve were enjoying an evening on the beach at Perran Sands in Cornwall when they become aware of a body boarder in trouble. The man had been swept out 100 metres from the shore by a rip tide – a strong offshore current which moves directly away from the shore.
The boys swam out to try to help the man as onlookers on the beach contacted the RNLI. Gabriel and Joe were holding the man afloat whilst swimming back to the beach when all three were picked up by the St. Agnes Lifeboat.
In a letter sent to Gabriel and Joe after the incident from the man they rescued, he described them as ‘heroes’. His wife, who had been looking on from the shore with her three young children, also expressed her gratitude calling them ‘thoughtful and selfless.’
The crew of the St. Agnes lifeboat said the boys would be ‘welcome on any RNLI team’ and praised them for calming the stricken body boarder. Whilst commending the boys’ willingness to assist a swimmer in peril, they are keen to make beachgoers aware of the dangers of swimming out to someone caught in a rip tide, saying ‘we always urge people to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they see someone in difficulty in the water, rather than going in themselves.’
Ed Burnett, Deputy Head of Taunton School, says ‘The whole school community are incredibly proud of Joe and Gabriel, particularly their selfless instinct of wanting to help someone in trouble.’
You can read more about the dangers of rip tides on the RNLI website: https://rnli.org/safety/know-the-risks/rip-currents