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Cromer lifeguards reveal their strangest rescue call outs

The Cromer RNLI team. Picture: Eleanor Pringle

The Cromer RNLI team. Picture: Eleanor Pringle

Eleanor Pringle

What do a deer, a seal, two seagulls, and a drone have in common?

No, they’re not the lyrics to a remix of one of our favourite Sound of Music tracks.

You probably wouldn’t have guessed that all of these unlikely things are a few of the many strange call-outs received by the Cromer RNLI team.

Senior lifeguard Ollie Frere-Smith has worked between Norfolk’s East coast and New Zealand for many years, and explained that being a lifeguard isn’t just about looking after swimmers on the beach.

He said: “We had an incident where there was a deer in the water before. They come down onto the beach and then when they see the people along the seafront they freak out and run straight into the water. We had to go out there on a rescue board, get on the seaward side and usher it back inland.

“I’ve had to free a couple of seagulls that got caught in fishing lines off the pier as well, I threw a towel over them to calm them down a bit and then cut them free. We named one Freddie.”

The Cromer team also rescued a baby seal which was stranded on the beach.

The Cromer resident continued: “We called the Seal Rescue team and they told us to bring him into the lifeguard hut so he was safe. He did try to bite me but didn’t manage.”

But biting seals are the least of the lifeguards’ worries.

The 26-year-old added: “The drone was the dangerous one, because of the blades. I put it on the end of the rescue board and stood as far back from it as I could without falling off. That also got tangled in a fishing wire, it was worth about £2,000 and was destroyed, the owner was just glad to get his memory chip back.”

But of course these one-off events are just a fraction of the tasks the summer team are tasked with, and at any one time in peak season only five lifeguards monitor the entire Cromer beach.

Sam Kendrick is Lifeguard Supervisor at Cromer RNLI, he said: “The main message from us is just to swim between the flags where we can keep an eye on you. Don’t swim out too far, and don’t swim out of your ability, that way you won’t get into difficulty.”

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