Snorkeler drowns at beach in Beadnell

Allen Franklin
Allen Franklin

The family of an 81-year-old man who drowned at a north Northumberland beach last week have thanked those who tried in vain to save his life.

Allen Franklin, from Tenby in South Wales, but living in Wiltshire, was on holiday in the area with his wife Shelah, her brother Mike Watkins and Mike’s wife.

The four went to the beach at Beadnell last Thursday and around noon, Mr Franklin went in for a swim with his snorkel and mask wearing flippers.

Despite being in his 80s, he was a strong swimmer, in good health and fit, having only recently stopped playing squash and still a keen golfer.

After five or 10 minutes, the others realised that he wasn’t moving, although it was difficult to tell because he was in shallow water and part of his body was visible above the water.

Mr Watkins had to drag his brother-in-law up the beach while his wife rang 999.

Initially, Mr Franklin was helped by a number of passers-by, which included a man who delivered first-aid training, but had never had to put it into action before, who gave him mouth-to-mouth resucitation.

“They were wonderful,” said Mr Watkins.

Next on the scene was the Seahouses Coastguard team with a defibrillator and Mr Watkins particularly highlighted the efforts of Andrew Smith and Ian Thompson.

Mr Watkins said: “Nobody wants a tragedy to happen, but when it does and people help, they deserve every accolade they get.”

After around 10 minutes, the Sea King from RAF Boulmer arrived and Mr Franklin was airlifted to the RVI in Newcastle.

Despite further efforts to rescusitate him in the helicopter and at the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

It is unknown exactly what happened to Mr Franklin; he may have suffered a heart attack or passed out in the water and the coroner will look into it.