A new book providing a collection of first-hand accounts of some of the most dramatic rescues carried out by RNLI lifesavers around the UK and Ireland over the past 20 years features an incredible feat of bravery by Portrush man and former RNLI station mechanic, Anthony Chambers. The recently retired lifeboat mechanic saved the lives of two teenage boys who became trapped in a cave with a fast-rising tide in 2009, receiving the RNLI’s medal for gallantry for the callout. The book Surviving the Storms goes on sale today (Thursday 11 June) with royalties from all sales supporting the lifesaving charity.
Surviving the Storms features 11 stories of extraordinary courage and compassion at sea, providing a rare insight into the life-or-death decisions the RNLI have to make when battling the forces of nature and saving lives.
Anthony’s story is included with those of a Cork lifeboat crew who battled force nine conditions to save a fishing crew in danger of hitting rocks in Castletownbere and lifeguards in Cornwall saving the lives of people, moments away from drowning. This book has an abundance of drama told from the unique perspective of the RNLI lifesavers, as well as those they rescue.
Being part of the lifeboats for Anthony Chambers came from his family. It started with his grandfather, Karl, who had been the mechanic for the first motorboat in Portrush in 1924. Then his father Gilbert, took over from him in 1947.
Anthony’s story concerns the rescue of two 14-year-old boys trapped by the fast rising tide in a cliff cave near Castlerock Strand on 5 August 2009. To rescue the boys Anthony had to swim from the all-weather lifeboat into the cave carrying lifejackets to bring both boys to safety in terrible conditions. He did this twice to bring both boys to safety.
In an extract from the book Anthony describes the moment he brought the second boy to safety, utterly exhausted after the rescue, to be met by another lifeboat crewmember Gerard Bradley who was onboard the waiting inshore lifeboat outside the cave.
“As we kicked our way towards the boat I felt the strength draining out of me, like sand out of an egg timer, it slipped away. I’m going to have to let him go. The lifeboat was just ahead of us and Reece was secured in his lifejacket. I knew Gerard would get him within moments. The boy would be safe. But I can’t keep on.’
‘Despite the ordeal almost being at an end. The exhaustion was too much. I prepared to let go and let the waves take me. I knew that as soon as I did, I’d be swallowed up and drown. I just didn’t have it in me to fight the waves anymore. But just as I went to release my grip and surrendered myself to the sea, Gerard came up alongside us. They’d got to us. I thought.’
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘Surviving the Storms is a wonderful account of selflessness and bravery although there is no book big enough to do justice to every RNLI rescue and rescuer. We have hundreds of lifeboat stations and thousands of crew members and lifeguards all dedicated to saving lives. Between them, they’ve helped so many people survive the storms and I’m proud of every one of them.’
As well as being available to order online from Amazon and Waterstones, the book is also due to be stocked at supermarkets across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda stores, as well as independent book shops and Waterstones stores. It is also available on Kindle, Apple Books and as an audio book.
To order a copy of Surviving the Storms visit https://books.harpercollins.co.uk/surviving-the-storms/