Fleetwood teen hero looks back on the night he saved drowning man's life

When a man was heard crying for help out at sea in Fleetwood on Monday, he was already up to his neck in water - and his life was in serious danger.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 3:45 pm

At around 10.30pm on Monday night (July 26), the sun had gone down at Fleetwood esplanade, and the sea had swallowed the shore.

It had been a warm summer's day at 20C, and many people had spent a day basking in the sun at the beach.

But as the darkness set in, one man found himself in a life-threatening position.

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Kye Cudlip, 19, saved a drowning man's life after alerting the coastguard to distant cries for help. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Meanwhile, Kye Cudlip, 19, headed out for a stroll from his home near the Esplanade to watch the sunset at Fisherman's memorial nearby.

He sat on a bench by the memorial for a while, gazing out into the distance as the tide came in and the sun was setting.

But Kye noticed an unusual sound in the distance as he looked out to sea, which by this point was a blanket of shadow, and realised he could hear a voice.

As he walked up to the promenade railings straining to hear more acutely, Kye concluded the voice belonged to man - who was desperately calling out for help from the water.

Kye Cudlip, 19, saved a drowning man's life after alerting the coastguard to distant cries for help. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Kye said: "I started to hear a raised voice shouting 'come on,’ and the shouting was persistent so I walked to the railings on the seafront and put my ear to the sea.

"At that point I knew that someone was in the water needing help. Not having my phone on me, I ran to the lifeboat station to see if there was an emergency phone but there wasn’t one.

So, I ran over to Fleetwood police station to use the yellow phone and began to tell the operator what I had heard. He told me to go back to the lifeboat station and wait for the coastguard to arrive, so I waited outside in the car park.

"Within minutes the first coastguard officer arrived on scene and I told him what I had heard. When the second had arrived we went down onto the beach to try and locate the person in the water."

Kye Cudlip, 19, saved a drowning man's life after alerting the coastguard to distant cries for help. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Rescuers from Fleetwood and Knott End coastguard teams were guided by Kye to the voice in the water, and began to shine their torches in a bid to find the man before it was too late.

They set off illuminating flares, of which the fourth revealed a silhouette, alerting rescuers to the casualty's position.

By this time he was up to his neck in water - and time was running out.

While rescuers had tried to locate the man, he had made his own emergency call and the coastguard HQ in Holyhead advised him to "float to live."

Kye Cudlip, 19, saved a drowning man's life after alerting the coastguard to distant cries for help. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

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Kye continued: "When we got down to the water's edge they began to shine their torches to search the water for someone in the direction I had pointed them in. After this they set off four flares, then when the fourth one landed one of the crew said they could see the man.

"The lifeboats launched and went out to collect him with the help of the coastguard. When they got him on the boat I could hear the radio, so I could hear the man was okay.

"It was one of the best feelings, knowing the guy was safe."

Two lifeboats were launched from Fleetwood, and coastguard rescuers from Fleetwood and Knott End stations brought the distressed man to safety.

Rescuers branded Kye the "hero of the hour," and said without his quick-thinking and swift action, the outcome could have been tragic.

They had "no doubt he had contributed to saving a life."

Kye's bravery resulted in the casualty being taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital to be treated for water inhalation.

But he attributed his ability to hear the man's calls for help to his diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which he said allows him to tune in to certain things which may go unnoticed by others.

He said: "When we were walking off the beach, one of the coast guard crew said to me, ‘you have good ears, and you are very observant.’

"I said I have ADHD, you notice things other people don’t."

Kye's mum Clare said she was "incredibly proud" of her son, who overcame his feelings of fright in the moment to save someone's life.

"My family is immensely proud of me for doing the right thing," Kye continued.

"But everyone who was there that night are the real heroes, they do that every day. I am just a lad who called a guy to help me help another guy.

"I hope the gentleman is now okay and back home with his family. I'm glad I followed my instincts. At first, I doubted myself about hearing the shouts, and I was also worried about getting into trouble if it turned out to be nothing.

"I am simply happy everything was okay."

Mark Sumner, station officer at Fleetwood Coastguard, praised Kye as a hero and said he "undoubtedly" prevented a death by overcoming his self-doubt.

Mark said: "Kye should be proud of himself for overcoming any self-doubt. He wasn't sure but summoned up the courage to call us out.

"He prevented a fatality, and we could have easily had another addition to the growing list of recent drownings."