Three children who were trapped in a cave cut off by rising tide have spoken out for the first time about their ordeal, after being rescued by lifeboat volunteers.
Rachel Pirie and Luke Foster, both 13, were left stranded with Chloe McCaw, 12, when a day spent exploring Dunbar’s cliffs turned into a nightmare.
The youngsters were cut off in the small cave for over two hours with just one working mobile phone and no food or water.
Lifeboat crew got to them in the nick of time - within the hour the cave would have flooded.
They were cold, scared and didn’t know what to do
A year on from the experience, the youngsters have praised the heroic efforts of the Dunbar RNLI as they backed the charity’s Christmas drive to raise cash.
Luke said: “If it wasn’t for the lifeboat crew we would be dead.”
A fun afternoon playing in a small cave with a natural spring near Dunbar Harbour at midday on Saturday November 24 last year quickly turned into a near tragedy, after the friends forgot to check the time of the tide.
Rachel said: “We know the area well and the tide was well out so we thought we were safe. We sat talking for about two hours.”
They were cold, scared and didn’t know what to do.
Rachel said: “I didn’t know how long we might be cut off for. I was thinking my mum would kill me and even though my dad was on the crew I thought I’d get into trouble for calling them out.”
Rachel, whose dad Stuart is a former helm on the lifeboat crew, was adamant that they couldn’t call for help.
After their desperate shouts for help went unheard, Luke dialled 999.
But when they dialled 999 the police struggled to locate them. Luke said: “Over the phone the operator told us the police were above us and calling but we couldn’t hear them over the noise of the waves. They then asked us to scream together on the count of three, but they still couldn’t hear or see us.”
RNLI comes to the rescue
Dunbar RNLI launched its inshore lifeboat (ILB) within minutes of a page from the Coastguard.
Helm Gaz Crowe had to navigate submerged rocks and crashing waves to reach them.
They were found by fellow crew Becs Miller and Jamie Forrester and treated for mild hypothermia before being reunited with their parents.
An RNLI spokesman said, “It was a time of spring high tide. Another hour and the water would have flooded the cave. They wouldn’t have been able to get to the edge.”
Luke said: “We were lucky I still had charge in my phone. Otherwise who knows what might have happened!”
Rachel’s dad Stuart said: “I know those caves and if the water had risen any higher they might not have been seen.”
RNLI lifeboat crews rescued 9,412 people in 2018, saving 211 lives, while their lifeguards helped 32,207 people and saved 118 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.
Helm Gaz Crowe said: “We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public. The RNLI has experienced a shortfall in funds, but we are rescuing more people than ever before. We are facing the Perfect Storm and are calling on people to make a donation this Christmas.”