Mar 27


Byline: Darlington angler, Michael Soley, paid a visit to Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat station on crew training night (Thursday 26 March 2015) to thank the volunteer crewmembers who rescued him after he was knocked over by a large wave and dragged into the sea.
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Michael and his father and brother had decided to have an afternoons fishing at the South Gare pier in Redcar on Saturday 21 March 2015.

An emotional Michael Soley said ‘We hadn’t started fishing when a first wave came over the pier and was washing around our ankles. Then we heard a loud thud and this huge wave came over us and knocked us off our feet. The others managed to catch hold of something but I got swept off the pier and into the sea.

I tried to swim back to the pier but couldn’t fight the sea and I started to panic. I heard someone shout ‘lay on your back’ which I tried to do but I was getting hit from all sides by the waves. The tide pulled me from the South Gare pier towards Redcar shoreline and then out to sea.

I remember laying in the water looking up at the sky and everything was going all peaceful and my eyes were shutting. All I could think about was my 8 year old son, Billy. He was supposed to be coming with us but decided to stay at home and play computer games with his friend.

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the lifeboat I can’t remember what happened next but I woke up in hospital with heat packs all over me.’

Hartlepool RNLI volunteer crewmember Andy Johnson said ‘We were out training on our new Atlantic 85 ‘Solihull’ when we heard the call. We got to the scene in less than 5 minutes and saw Michael in the water. We later found out that he had been there for about 25 minutes. We had to go passed him and then approach him bow into the wave. As we approached Michael he was not responding and a big wave hit us and knocked three of us off our feet and onto the deck of the lifeboat. We quickly got back up and threw a line to Michael and shouted for him to grab the rope. Somehow he managed to do that and we pulled him onboard. He was given initial first aid and taken to a waiting ambulance by the Harbourmasters office on the River Tees which took him to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.’

Michael, who visited the lifeboat station with his family, said ‘I am so grateful to the RNLI lifeboat crews from Hartlepool and Redcar and I owe my life to them. I can’t thank them enough they were brilliant.’

Hartlepool RNLI Operations Manager Mike Craddy said ‘This is the sort of rescue our volunteer crewmembers train for every week so we can help save lives at sea. We were all pleased to welcome Michael and his family to Hartlepool lifeboat station and we are pleased that this time everything has ended well.’

Notes to editors

Photo caption

Hartlepool RNLI volunteer crewmembers Andy Johnson and Clare Gibbin with Michael Soley on the Atlantic 85 ‘Solihull’
• Hartlepool lifeboat station has been operating since 1803. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to
• A photo of Hartlepool’s Trent lifeboat can be viewed at

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Malcolm Wallis, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07538 006694 or or Alison Levett RNLI Media Relations Manager North on 07786 668912 or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789

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