Swanage emergency services to feature on BBC TV

The exceptional teamwork of Swanage RNLI, coastguard and air ambulance is to be highlighted on the BBC, showing how they rescued a seriously injured climber from the rock face at Anvil Point near Swanage.

In the new series of Saving Lives at Sea, Episode 2 will show how they managed to get the woman the medical treatment she urgently needed. It will be aired on BBC2 at 8 pm on Thursday 1st September 2022.

Swanage RNLI crew members

Swanage Lifeboat crew members in a more formal pose for the BBC Saving Lives at Sea programme publicity

High profile rescue

The high profile rescue in January 2022 featured in the media at the time, not only due to the difficulty of reaching the climber from a rock ledge but also as the CEO of a charity, she was keen to publicly express her gratitude to all the volunteers.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of the homelessness charity Shelter, was abseiling down the rock face on Friday 28th January 2022 when she fell and sustained an open fracture to her ankle.

Shortly after her rescue, speaking to Swanage.News she said:

“I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this country’s unique charity sector: the often unseen millions of people who – whether as donors or volunteers – make a better world for everyone.

“Being rescued by the RNLI and the coastguard saved my life. It was also a privilege to meet the ultimate charity volunteers.

“Imagine if these brave, highly skilled and committed women and men weren’t giving up their time for us? Unthinkable, not only for me personally and for Swanage, but for the millions who depend on volunteers up and down the country.”

Climber transferred into the inshore lifeboat
RNLI/Becky Mack

The climber is brought down from the rock ledge by Swanage Coastguard members and then taken by the RNLI to the lifeboat station, where she is met by an ambulance crew, who then transfer her to the air ambuilance and take her to Southampton Hospital

Saving Lives at Sea episode

Other rescues featured in the episode titled Teamwork include a retired crew member who comes to the aid of a person in the water when mechanical problems throw a spanner in the works of the lifeboat in Rhyl, North Wales.

On Douglas, in the Isle of Man, a fire on a fishing boat puts the crew on red alert. And in Gravesend, a routine training exercise is diverted by an unusual casualty: a poorly swan.

Busy August Bank Holiday weekend

While the Swanage rescue, featured in the programme, happened seven months ago, the teams were just as busy over the recent August Bank Holiday weekend. From Friday 26th through to Monday 29th August 2022 the pagers continued to go off.

Swanage Coastguard was called out to eight incidents and the Swanage Lifeboat to at least three.

Friday 26th

Swanage Coastguard ended up at the nudist beach at Studland, helping a woman who was having what was described as a medical incident.

Both the coastguard helicopter and the air ambulance went to her aid, although the coastguard helicopter, which was on route to another incident, was able to continue on its journey.

Air ambulance and coastguard at Studland
Don Williams
Air ambulance and Coast guard helicopter attend medical incident at Studland
Swanage Coastguard
Air ambulance and sun bathers
Don Williams

Swanage Coastguard and both the air ambulance and coastguard search and rescue helicopter go to the aid of a woman on the Studland nudist beach

Saturday 27th

The coastguard team supported Dorset Police with a search and to give medical support. During the incident, the team had to split and divert to search for two paddleboarders off Handfast Point near Old Harry Rocks.

Sunday 28th

Sunday’s coastguard patrol were flagged down at Knoll Beach by someone reporting that their children were missing. Fortunately they were found shortly afterwards.

The Swanage team were then diverted to Peveril Point after three kayakers got into difficulty. The Swanage inshore lifeboat launched and along with a passing yacht recovered all three who were safely brought ashore.

The three kayakers were cold and exhausted, with some minor injuries, so were checked over by the waiting ambulance crew.

Boat rescue by Swanage lifeboat
Clive Crabb
Kayak rescue by Swanage lifeboat
Clive Crabb

The kayaks and their occupants are brought back to Swanage Bay by both Swanage Lifeboat crew and a passing yacht

Monday 29th

Monday’s coastguard patrol went to Old Harry Rocks following a report that a catamaran had capsized and was drifting ashore. The Swanage inshore lifeboat brought the two sailors ashore to the coastguard teams before returning to recover the craft.

During this incident the patrol were retasked to the Sandbanks Ferry to monitor a yacht caught on a fishing net which was also attended by the Poole Lifeboat crew.

Having just got back to the station the team were again paged to a person fallen on the coast path under the Wellington Clock Tower in Swanage. On arriving some members of the RNLI crew were treating the woman before the ambulance arrived.

Catamaran in trouble at Old Harry Rocks
Swanage Coastguard
Catamaran in trouble at Old Harry Rocks
Swanage Coastguard

The catamaran in trouble at Old Harry Rocks

Long weekend

At the end of a long weekend Swanage Coastguard reported:

“Finally to end the weekend and whilst the team were at Old Harry, we had to speak to a number of people who continued to walk out onto a narrow ridge.

“This ridge is not a path and despite warnings people continue to walk out with a 90 foot drop each side.”

Person on Old Harry Rocks
Swanage Coastguard

The Swanage Coastguard spoke to this person at Old Harry Rocks to warn them of the dangers


Watch a clip of the Swanage team rescue from episode 2 of Saving Lives at Sea on BBC iPlayer

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