Swept out to sea. Saved by a spoon
Grabbing my surf board, I waved goodbye to my husband and daughter.
‘Bye guys! I’ll be back in half an hour. Don’t have too much fun without me!’ I said.
My husband Dave, 47, and I had taken our daughter Bella down to Woolacombe in Devon every year.
Bella, who suffers from severe autism, is only eight, but like any other child, she loves being by the sea.
Which is great for me, because Dave can look after her for an hour or so and I can catch some waves, something I’ve been doing since I was five.
But after about 20 minutes of body boarding in choppy water, I decided to head back in.
I’d better get back, I thought.
Just then, a big wave hit me and knocked me off the board.
As I hit the water hard, I knew instantly that I’d dislocated my arm.
Unable to swim with an injured arm, I was rapidly drifting further out to sea.
I tried to signal to the life guard that I was in distress,
but each time I tried, I had to let go of the board – my only life line – to do so. It was hopeless. I started panicking. I was taking in a lot of water and I was so far out by then that I had become invisible to anyone on the beach. I am going to drown and no one is going to know I am here, I thought. Suddenly, an RNLI lifeguard on a paddle board saw me and came over. He saw that I was in trouble and tried to lift me onto his board.
But every time he tried to get me on it, a wave would come crashing in, taking me under.
‘It’s not going to work,’ he said. ‘We need a boat.’
I didn’t think I was going to last much longer. My legs were exhausted. I’d been treading water for more than 40 minutes.
I was becoming desperate, and I kept thinking of my daughter.
Who would help my husband take care of her? What would she do without me?
But thoughts of her spurred me on and kept my legs kicking.
I knew I had to make it for her.
Finally, an RNLI boat came speeding toward us across the choppy waves.
After a lot of struggling, they managed to lift me into the life boat.
The biggest man in the boat spooned me to keep me warm. I was shivering. When we arrived on the shore, Dave and Bella were waiting for me with terrified looks on their faces.
I’d never been more relieved to see them.
But I wasn’t out of danger yet.
I was hypothermic. My whole body was shaking.
I was given gas and air as we waited for the
paramedics to arrive and given hypothermic blankets to warm me up.
Finally they gave me morphine and I woke up in hospital a few hours later, holding Bella’s hand.
I couldn’t believe I had survived.
‘We were so worried about you,’ Dave said.
I owe my life to the RNLI.
After all, if it were not for them, I would not be here and Bella would not have a mother.
We all love the sea
Heading out to hit the waves
Recovering at home
Safety of the sand My incredible rescue