Letter: Heroes of the French beaches

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The Independent Online
Sir: Royan, the west coast of France. Last week I was on the beach with my eight-year-old son, Jack, building sand castles. He had been running back and forth to the sea for water with his bucket and suddenly he disappeared. Since our arrival on the beach, crowds had descended. My son became disorientated and got lost.

When he didn't come back I went to took for him in the water as Jack is a keen swimmer. Although only 15 minutes had ticked by I was chilled with fear whilst feeling like an idiot. How could I lose my son who was virtually under my feet? My French "towel neighbours" urged me to inform the poste de secours (help point) which I did. This service is staffed by young men and women in their early twenties . They are a real Baywatch team, energetic, professional, and tanned. I found one member on the beach, armed with a lifejacket and floats, and he immediately sprang into action on his walkie talkie. Within minutes a public announcement was made on the beach that Jack was missing. Jack heard his name and knew that help was coming. He was then not afraid to be led away by an official (in swimming gear) when he was found. I am very grateful to that team. I explained to Messrs Baywatch that no such service existed in the UK and they replied that only Australia, the US and France now had such a facility.

Following the tragic disappearance of the Loughlin children on a beach in Norfolk and knowing of other sorts of emergencies that can arise when hundreds or thousands of people get together isn't it time the UK found its own Baywatch teams?


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