Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Beach message group thank rescuers

A family rescued after writing a message for help in the sand have thanked an RNLI crew

Families rescued after writing a message for help in the sand have spoken of their ordeal for the first time.

The party of seven had travelled around Stepper Point near Padstow in Cornwall to a beach at Butter Hole, for a picnic. They became trapped by a steep onshore swell and did not have a phone or radio signal - so wrote "send for help" in the sand.

A walker on the cliff top spotted the message within minutes and alerted coastguards, with an RNLI crew rushing to the rescue at 3.21pm on Tuesday.

The families thanked the Rock RNLI crew who saved them, presenting them with beer and the promise of a donation to the charity.

The group, on holiday from Kent, were Tim Humfrey, Rick Boomgaardt, Anna Boomgaardt, Alex Slack, Elsa Boomgaardt, Lily Slack and Billy Boomgaardt.

Tim Humfrey said the group had headed to the cove as it was "another idyllic sunny day", adding: "We must have stayed on the beach for about an hour, exploring the cove but we did notice the tide was rising and the swell was increasing. We monitored the situation and even discussed what we might do if it didn't ease. By the time we decided to get everything together to leave, the swell and the waves were fairly serious.

"We had to take the decision that it was too dangerous to try and get out by boat with the children. So we wrote a message in the sand hoping someone would see it as we couldn't call out over the sound of the sea crashing on the rocks around us."

Remarkably, the message was noticed within minutes - with lifeboat crews arriving just 15 minutes later.

He added: "The Rock lifeboat team arrived and took us off in two groups, and eventually we were all taken onboard the Padstow RNLI all-weather lifeboat and returned to the Rock pontoon. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the RNLI and the coastguard for doing an amazing job. The lifeboat crew were utterly professional and considerate throughout; they were particularly marvellous with the children. I can't thank them enough and we will be putting a worthy donation their way."

He said he would take greater safety measures in the future.

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