A BOY has thanked a lifeboat crew for saving his life after he was swept into the North Sea by a freak wave.
William Maughan was playing with his twin brother Jack and two friends on Cullercoats Pier when he was carried about 50 metres out to sea at Brown’s Bay last month.
Members of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade were quickly on the scene and kept an eye on the 12-year-old until the Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat arrived minutes later.
Senior helmsman Robert Oliver used his knowledge of the shallow water to guide the lifeboat while colleagues Grahame Wood and Steven Potts kept sight of William as he struggled to stay afloat while being battered by waves up to 15ft high.
The youngster was airlifted to Ashington’s Wansbeck General Hospital after being taken back to shore but was allowed to go home several hours later.
William, said by rescuers to be lucky to be alive, and his family have since visited the boathouse to thank the crew and have another look, in less troubled circumstances, at the lifeboat that saved him.
The crew were also able to fill William in about the rescue as his recollection was confused because he had been drifting towards unconsciousness at the time.
Graeme said: “Will thought I was speaking quietly to him in the lifeboat when in fact I was screaming at him at the top of my voice in an effort to keep him awake.”
Will’s mother Margaret said: “I can’t thank or praise the crew and the RNLI enough for saving William’s life. Thanks to their fast response, my son is able to visit the station. It could have had such a different ending.
“I am also grateful that William’s friends did just the right thing. They stayed calm and phoned for help.”
William says he plans to do some fundraising for the RNLI next year to show his gratitude.
Lifeboat operations manager Frank Taylor said: “We are delighted to see young Will at the boathouse. The crew really appreciate his expression of thanks. It makes our training and fundraising all worthwhile.”