Wales

RNLI honour for Newgale lifeguards' daring rescue

Alison Saunders presents award to Scott Candler, Ben Ablitt, George Strotter and Cameron Chancey
Image caption Alison Saunders presents the award to Scott Candler, Ben Ablitt, George Strotter and Cameron Chancey

Lifeguards who were involved in a daring rescue of two surfers stranded on rocks at sea have been honoured for their heroism.

Members of the Pembrokeshire team received an RNLI award for the "most meritorious" rescue on a UK beach.

The surfers - a man and a woman - got into difficulty off Newgale Beach in a rip current last summer.

One lifeguard had to swim to reach them while another had to steer a boat in treacherous water.

Two other members of the team remained on land to co-ordinate the operation, which saw the surfers eventually rescued with minor injuries and shock.

Scott Candler, who was one of the four-man team involved, said the lifeguards were "surprised but honoured" to receive the award.

He said he had been involved in numerous rescues during his five years as a lifeguard, but the most dramatic was the one during a rainy, foggy day last June.

"It was a pretty horrible day and there was quite big surf," said the 21-year-old senior lifeguard.

"A call came in from the coastguard saying two surfers had got into difficulty and because it was so foggy we couldn't see them. We just didn't know what to expect."

Mr Candler and colleague Ben Ablitt launched their boat and found a surfboard near a rock about 600m away.

Following cries and shouts, they saw the two surfers clinging on to rocks as the sea pounded them.

The only way to reach them was to swim, so Mr Candler made his way in the rough sea towards them, where he had to persuade the scared woman to come with him.

'Thrown overboard'

After getting her into the boat and taking her to the shore where an ambulance was waiting, the pair returned to the rocks, where Mr Candler again had to swim.

"The man was a bit more difficult as he was quite a big guy and I think he had hurt his knee on the rock so he could not really swim with me," said Mr Candler.

"I managed to get him back to the boat and as I got on board a massive wave hit it and threw Ben overboard.

"I pulled him back in and then the casualty and, thankfully, we all got back to shore okay."

He added: "It was very dramatic but once you've got the adrenaline going you don't think about your own safety."

Mr Candler and Mr Ablitt, along with fellow lifeguards Cameron Chancey and George Strotter, were presented with the RNLI Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award in Saundersfoot on Wednesday evening.

"It's a massive honour for all of us and we're really pleased," added Mr Candler.

"It shows the importance of lifeguarding in the local area."

RNLI lifeguard manager Philip Davies added: "RNLI lifeguards face all kinds of scenarios on the beach, and due to the intensive training they take part in throughout the season, they've got the skills and abilities to face anything and help those in trouble on the coast."

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