Little did I realise when I took this video at at 4:04pm that a minute later I would be running along the steps to help rescue Maisy (name changed) an 11 year old who had fallen into the sea. She and a friend had been near the sea on the slipway when they misjudged the waves and got into trouble. Her friend was able to get out of the water, but Maisy was swept away by the surf.
After I shot the video, I came down the steps to my daughter who had been sitting below just out of the camera shot. I looked over to see something happening. At first I thought an object had fallen into the water or it was an owner with a dog on a lead, but as I started to walk in that direction, I realized that someone was in the water and three men were trying to throw a rope to reach them. As I broke into a run, I could start to hear their shouts over the wind and the waves. When I arrived, I saw a young girl, being buffeted by the waves unable to grab the thin rope being thrown to her. The other men were starting to form a human chain, holding on to the rope, and trying to reach her in the pounding surf. You could see her face was blue from the cold water. The water temperature is around 6 degrees centigrade at this time of year so her survival time was less than 30 minutes.¹
She was struggling to keep her head up and what kept her afloat, and ultimately alive, was her purple and white Smiggle backpack.
See this dramatic footage of a similar incident on the Redcar Promenade from April 2018. The sea is rougher but you get an idea of what we faced.
When the girls had gotten into trouble, one of the men had grabbed a rope off a fishing boat that was on the promenade. See the picture below as an illustration.