Boy rescued over 150m from shore by off-duty lifeguard in County Derry

AN off-duty RNLI lifeguard used her skills and training to come the aid of a boy being swept out into open waters at Downhill beach in Derry, it has emerged.

Senior RNLI lifeguard Cara Telfer.
Senior RNLI lifeguard Cara Telfer.

The incident was one of several emergencies involving local lifeguards along this stretch of coastline in County Derry over recent weeks as crowds flocked to beaches in the good weather.

RNLI has confirmed that following her daily patrol on Downhill Beach near the famous Mussenden Temple, on Saturday, August 6, Senior Lifeguard Cara Telfer was enjoying a swim with her family after 7pm when she observed a boy deep in the water about 150m from the shore.

“When I got out of the sea after our swim,” Cara explained, “I said to my dad that I wasn’t happy with the boy being that far out on his own in case he would get into trouble.

The RNLI has issued safety advice for those heading to the beach.

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“I could see his mother on the beach waving at him and trying to call him in, so I approached her, explained that I was a lifeguard and asked if her son was a good swimmer.

“When she said he wasn’t and that she was worried, I told her I would go and get him.”

Cara swam out and by this stage the boy was further out and behind the breaking waves, but his head was still above the water.

“I asked him to hold on to my arm and we swam in until he could stand and then we walked to shore,” Cara said.

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Speaking following the latest incidents, Regional Lifeguard Lead Michael Thompson commended the lifeguards for using their intuition, skills and training to help others despite being off-duty. “Their selfless and courageous efforts despite being off-duty is testament to the dedication of our lifeguard team and it is very reassuring and pleasing to know that their knowledge, skills and training will immediately kick in regardless of time or place when they see someone in difficulty.”

THe charity is independent of Coastguard and governments and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives. The RNLI is a charity registered in Ireland, England and Scotland.