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Twin meets lifeboatman who dived into the sea to save her

PUBLISHED: 15:21 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 21 December 2019

Daisy (L) and Molly O'Donnell with Michael Darby at Hunstanton lifeboat station Picture: Brittany Woodman

Daisy (L) and Molly O'Donnell with Michael Darby at Hunstanton lifeboat station Picture: Brittany Woodman

Archant

Twin sisters told of the day they nearly drowned as they met the lifeboatman who plunged into the sea to save one of them.

Michael Darby, who jumped into the sea to save Daisy   Picture: Brittany WoodmanMichael Darby, who jumped into the sea to save Daisy Picture: Brittany Woodman

Daisy and Molly O'Donnell, both 12, were on Brancaster Beach with their 23-year-old sister Zoe and her boyfriend Nickie Davies, then 29, on a sunny afternoon in September, 2013.

The group, all from Wisbech, had walked out to the shipwreck off the foreshore as the tide was out. But they were caught as the sea rapidly began to come back in.

The twins clung to Mr Davies's shirt, while he guided them to a marker buoy floating nearby, before he swam to the shore for help.

By the time the RNLI's Hunstanton hovercraft arrived around 15 minutes later, Zoe and Daisy had lost their grip of the buoy and been swept further out to sea. Crew member Michael Darby plunged into the water to save them.

Daisy and Molly O'Donnell with members of the Hunstanton lifeboat crew. The twins are backing the RNLI's new appeal. Picture: Brittany WoodmanDaisy and Molly O'Donnell with members of the Hunstanton lifeboat crew. The twins are backing the RNLI's new appeal. Picture: Brittany Woodman

Daisy said: "I can remember before they came it felt like it was a long time we were clinging on to it. I can remember trying to scream to get attention."

Molly added: "The tide was strong, it was cold and we didn't know if anyone was coming. Then my older sister lost her grip and went under the water, we were drifting away and it was terrifying.

"When the lifeboat came I was the first one to be lifted in. If you watch the footage, I'm the one screaming: "Where's my sister, where's Daisy."
Mr Darby, 49, an offshore technician who lives in Hunstanton, said: "That day started as a routine call-out to people cut off by the tide. It quickly escalated to people trying to swim.

"Call it what you like, call it instinct, I decided to jump in. The rest is history."

Molly said: "Without him, who knows what might have happened. He saved Daisy, I can't thank him enough."

Daisy said: "It's nice to be able to thank the RNLI."

Despite the dramatic rescue, holidaymakers still ignore warnings not to venture out to the wreck.

In a single day this summer, the Hunstanton lifeboat picked up 16 people who had been cut off by the tide at Brancaster.

To support the RNLI's Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity's brave volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm.


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