Couple who had miracle escape from death now on mission to save lives on Mull

A couple who had a miraculous escape from death when a hurricane catapulted them through the air are now on a mission to save lives at sea with Tobermory lifeboat.

Edd and Charly with their dog, Penny, on board their live-in yacht at Tobermory. Picture: RNLI
Edd and Charly with their dog, Penny, on board their live-in yacht at Tobermory. Picture: RNLI

After years of travelling the world professional sailors Edd and Charly Hewett's near death experience put them on course for a life changing journey to Mull, to settle down and volunteer for the RNLI.

Disaster struck in 2018 when Mr and Mrs Hewett were on a camping holiday in remote Cape Dolphin, the most northerly point of the Falkland Islands.

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Hurricane winds of 130mph lifted the shipping container they had sought refuge in, flipping the metal structure over three or four times through the air, with them and their tent inside, before crash landing 200 metres away.

Charly at the tent they set up, in the shelter of an old shipping container, at the northern most point of the Falkland islands on a camping holiday

And it was the conversation they had, as they lay for hours in the container, with Mrs Hewett close to death with life-threatening injuries, that kicked off a plan to change their lives.

Mr Hewett, also injured and concussed, eventually gained the inner strength to walk two hours through the storm to the nearest house for help.

His 29-year-old wife, who is Tobermory Lifeboat's new Deputy Launching Authority, said: "When you are in the situation we were in, not knowing if you are going to get rescued, it really makes you think."

Mrs Hewett, who is expecting the couple's first baby in November, added: "It was during those hours, when I was in and out of consciousness, that we talked and said - if we come out of this shall we get married? We thought...we never did get married and have kids."

Charly in hospital in Montevideo, Uraguay, after the accidenty which could have cost her her life

Mr Hewett, 30, the lifeboat's newest crew member, added: "The accident did help motivate us to join the lifeboat, to help others. After the accident I did look at being a paramedic but decided that the RNLI is a better option with my sailing experience."

Having ticked getting married off their list last summer the couple, who grew up in England, continued their plan by buying a boat to live in and sailed to Tobermory, the place they first met while working for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, to settle down.

Now grateful for each new day, they have set up a new business venture called Ardent Training, teaching RYA yachting theory courses online from their floating home, so they can make a living without going off to sea.

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It's all a far cry from the day when disaster struck, when they were both lying unconscious, when the container crashed down in the hurricane and Mr Hewett woke to find his then girlfriend near to death's door, with multiple injuries.

Edd and Charly in a lighthouse on their camping trip to the Falklands before the hurricane struck

Recalling that moment he said: "I was in a really bad way, battered, bruised, concussed and knocked out and Charly was struggling to survive."

He added: "There is practically no mobile phone signal there and the Internet is awful so getting weather forecasts was tricky. Our tent was getting battered so we took refuge with the tent in this old shipping container, but then the container got lifted into the air in the wind and flipped over several times before it landed on the ground 200 metres away, with us still in it."

Mrs Hewett said it was lucky they had moved out of the tent, for extra stability, as it was blown out of the container into the sea. She added: "While we were in the shipping container Edd was so badly concussed, we were there for a number of hours, it was pretty horrible.

"I knew I had a punctured lung and was not going to last much longer and I knew that rescue was not coming, I thought the only way to survive was if Edd went to get help.

"He went out into the storm and found pieces of kit, our belongings were totally scattered. When the container rolled over I had been clutching an emergency kit and he went out looking for bits of kit to help us warm up. He found a grab bag and thermal blankets."

Her husband explained: "I then set off for the closest house, it took me a couple of hours to get there, and one of the guys from the house set off on a quad bike to help Charly while another guy went to the next house, a couple of miles away, where they had a Satellite phone. "

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The rescue mission continued with a call for a helicopter to take the couple to hospital in Stanley, the capital of the Falklands where the RAF were tasked to fly them over 1000 miles to Montevideo, in Uraguay, to the nearest hospital capable of treating their injuries.

Mr Hewett said: "Charly had a broken shoulder, broken arm, her ribs were broken and have now been replaced with metal. She also had a punctured lung and lacerated liver, I was told you would expect someone with such injuries to die after a couple of minutes, but the hypothermia kept her alive.

"They thought I had brain damage at first, but I was just exhausted. We were in hospital for six weeks and Charly made a remarkable recovery."

The couple were called on their first lifeboat shout last Friday to an eight metre motorboat, with two crew on board, which suffered mechanical failure near Calgary Bay, Mull.

Mr Hewett said: "I really feel like a member of the team now and it feels great to have helped out a stricken boat." Dr Sam Jones, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Tobermory, said: "Charly and Edd's maritime background

and skills alone mean that they are a great asset to the station. However, with their own experience of knowingwhat it means to be rescued themselves, it means so much to them to volunteer to save others in difficulty on the water. We're really pleased to welcome them to our lifeboat family at Tobermory."

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