Cocker spaniel Poppy is reunited with Fleetwood RNLI crew that pulled her out the Irish Sea

A dog that was swept out into the Irish Sea last month has been reunited with the Fylde coast lifeboat crew that saved her.

By James Graves
Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 10:58 am

Poppy, a nine-year-old cocker spaniel, had been on a walk at Rossall Point with her owners and her younger pup Milly when, after chasing a flock of seagulls, she found herself being dragged out to sea with the tide and currents.

Her owners, Karen Eden, 59, and David Stapleton, 77, of Bennett Road in Thornton, could only look on in horror as they saw their dog disappear behind the waves and heard her stop barking.

David said: “We were right up along the beach towards Rossall Point and we were just about to leave the beach and Poppy darted off quickly to chase seagulls.

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David and Karen with Poppy and the Fleetwood RNLI’s Tony Cowell, coxswain; Brian Blundell, ALB crew member; Ed Kilsby, fleet staff mechanicand Alistair Fletcher, ALB crew member

“She got into the shallow water and just kept going. We were all chasing after her but she was that intent on chasing the seagulls she didn’t listen.

“Then she got too far out and with the tide going out so fast it swept her towards one of the buoys in the channel.

“With the tide and river flowing so much it swept her out of sight. We could hear her barking but then all of a sudden the barking stopped and we both just thought we had lost her.

“Milly kept jumping in and out of the water as she loves her mum more than anything.”

Poppy with rescuer Brian 'Bunny' Blundell

Already fearing the worst, a call was put in with the coastguard and relayed to Fleetwood’s RNLI team.

They were already out at sea on September 16 following reports of a kayak in trouble at Blackpool and another incident at Rossall Point.

On their way back to port they learned that a dog had been swept out by the tide.

Both of Fleetwood’s life-saving vessels searched the sea and had just given up hope of finding the pet alive when they spotted her – exhausted – near the Wyre Light, about two miles out at sea.

Poppy had been swept out two miles into the Irish Sea before being rescued

Tony Cowell, coxswain for Fleetwood RNLI said: “As we were going around into the main channel, which was a good half hour after we had started searching, we spotted the dog going across – it was truly unbelievable.

“All the crew were shouting and clapping to try and get the dog to come our way. The tide was travelling at six knots so the poor dog was out of breath trying to fight against the tide.

“Of course when we got Poppy aboard the two crew members took her inside drying her off with a towel and I was on top and I shouted it down below if everything was okay.

“The navigator shouted back and said ‘we’ve got two casualties down here’. I said ‘two?’ and he replied ‘yes, Bunny is in floods of tears.’

“We all have animals so it was just great to save the dog.”

Bunny is the nickname of Brian Blundell, a crew member on the all-weather lifeboat, and he said finding out a dog had been swept out to sea was “terrible to hear”.

He said: “There were lots of people looking and I had spotted something on the port side but didn’t know it was the dog.

“All of a sudden I heard “it’s the dog, dog” being shouted.

“We were all shouting to get Poppy’s attention and the inland-lifeboat went over to pull her out of the water.

“She was then transferred over to our boat and we wrapped her in a towel and she sat on my knee and I was filling up with floods of tears because I’m a big dog lover.

“It was a brilliant result and I was so happy she was saved.”

David said he could see the rescue mission happen from the beach but couldn’t tell if Poppy had been rescued.

He added: “I thought she would have been out by Wyre Light and I saw the main lifeboat coming into the channel and then all of a sudden it stops. We thought they might have found her.

“The next minute the coastguard puts his siren on behind us and calls us over to tell us they have found her.

“It was one hell of a relief. We were both crying and Karen broke down in tears.

“These lifeboat crews do one heck of a job and we both can’t thank them enough for saving Poppy.”

The RNLI has seen its donations collapse following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Around 93 per cent of its total income comes from the public and it relies on donations from people.

Go to www.rnli.org/support-us to donate or find out ways to support the RNLI.