Walker alerts Coastguard after spotting kayakers

Jeremy Gray
Jeremy Gray

A Lesbury man helped save the lives of two kayakers who were in difficulty after capsizing in the cold North Sea.

Jeremy Gray was walking with his parents at Amble at lunchtime on Friday, February 7, when he spotted the men through his binoculars.

The 51-year-old alerted the Coastguard to the pair’s plight and they were subsequently plucked from the water by lifeboat crew.

“I was glad to help,” said Jeremy, a caretaker at Hipsburn First School.

“It was lucky that I had my binoculars with me otherwise I don’t think I could have seen them, as they were dots on the horizon.

“They tried to swim in at one point, but it didn’t last long.”

Jeremy wasn’t sure if the men were in trouble, but then realised they needed help as he watched the drama unfold through his binoculars.

He said: “It was really surreal. I saw two kayakers. One was in the water, he was lying on something. He was speaking to his companion in a kayak. Then the other kayaker capsized. I thought it was a practice. But then he came out of the kayak.

“I saw one of the paddles float away and then one of the kayaks floated away.

“I then started to think that they really were in trouble, as they had one upturned kayak between them.

“They began to signal for help. They signalled to a small trawler, but it wasn’t that close to them. They started to wave at the harbour.

“The trawler, which was called the Venture, came into the harbour and I shouted to the boat that a couple of lads were in trouble and the boat did a U-turn and went out to the lads and I phoned the Coastguard.”

The drama unfolded in the waters just off Amble harbour and the town’s RNLI volunteers launched both the all-weather and inshore lifeboat.

The crew of the Venture had thrown in a lifebelt to help the casualties.

The inshore lifeboat rescued the men, believed to be local, from the water and transferred them to the all-weather vessel.

The men, who were not wearing lifejackets or suitable kayaking clothing, were assessed for injuries and illness.

It is not known how long they were immersed in the water before being seen and subsequently rescued, but both men were showing signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia.

The RAF Boulmer helicopter airlifted the two casualties from the lifeboat and transport them to the Wansbeck General Hospital for treatment.

RNLI volunteer coxswain John Connell was pleased with the outcome of the rescue and said: “It was fortunate for the two casualties to have been spotted in the water early, otherwise the outcome could well have been tragic.”