Safety to be reviewed at Brancaster beach

Walking the dog on Brancaster Beach in the winter. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Walking the dog on Brancaster Beach in the winter. Picture; Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Safety at a beach where three sisters were nearly swept away by the sea after being caught out by a sudden rising tide is to be reviewed to see whether extra signs should be put in place.

Hunstanton RNLI made a presentation to the National Trust, which owns Brancaster beach, about the need for increased safety warnings in light of the near-tragedy during the tourist season in August.

It included a dramatic video of the rescue of 23-year-old Zoe O'Donnell and her 12-year-old twin sisters, Molly and Daisy, whichb showed them screaming for help as they clinged to a marker buoy.

Geoff Needham, spokesman for Hunstanton RNLI, said: 'We made clear our concerns over if there was any way to make people more aware. The presentation was well-received and they took it very seriously.'

A spokesman for the National Trust said: 'We are now looking ahead to next summer and how we can improve what we do.

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'Our coastal ranger for Brancaster will continue to work closely with the warden at Natural England, which manages Scolt Head Island, to plan our patrols at key times during next year's holiday season.

'We are also reviewing our safety signs, which sit in place at the entrance to Brancaster beach. These are modelled on the RNLI's guide to beach safety signage and we will be seeking their input on any possible changes.

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'We are also looking into how we can work with other organisations to increase public awareness of tidal dangers.'

Mr Needheam said that, in his personal view, some of the warning signs that were on the beach 'could be better positioned'.

He added: 'People I spoke to said the first sign they saw was for the golf course. Getting the signage repositioned in a different place could be more effective.

He added that: 'Our advice to people is to stay on the beach, as there is no problem on the beach,' as people experience problems when they go further out and people get caught by the fast currents.

Miss O'Donnell was with her sisters and her 29-year-old boyfriend, Nickie Davies, when they had gone to visit a shipwreck.

But they were caught out by the tide, with the sisters clinging a marker buoy while Mr Davies, of Sefton Avenue, Wisbech, swam to the shore to try to get help.

The RNLI reached the group within 30 minutes but just as they were about to rescue the sisters, two of the girls lost their grip and were swept further out to sea.

Senior helmsman Michael Darby jumped off his boat and swam against the tide to save one of the girls still clinging to the buoy but who had become distressed.

He inflated his lifejacket in order to keep both of them afloat.

Mr Davies said: 'There definitely needs to be more to make people aware.

'So many people get caught out.'

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