An emotional ‘thank you’ was received by Exmouth lifeboat crew when two girls rescued from drowning met the heroes who saved their lives.

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Thank You card from Hannah Woolacott and Charlotte Wright to Exmouth RNLI crew. Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 3251-43-10TI

Two teenagers saved from drowning by Exmouth lifeboat crew have met their rescuers, thanking them for saving their lives.

Hannah Woolacott, 16, and Charlotte Wright, 15, both from Exeter, were recently plucked from the rough sea off Dawlish Warren by the inshore lifeboat crew after the pair were swept off the sea wall in a freak accident.

On Saturday the two teenagers came face-to-face with their rescuers in an emotional meeting at Exmouth lifeboat station.

Charlotte, who suffered secondary drowning after a freak wave swept her into the sea, said: “I thought I was going to die. I didn’t think I was going to get out. I was in a real bad way.

Reading a 'Thank You' card from Hannah Woolacott and Charlotte Wright Exmouth RNLI crew Andy Williams and Andy Smith. Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 3246-43-10TI

“I can’t remember seeing the lifeboat come, because I couldn’t lift my head.

“I can remember hearing them say they were going to help us, and them dragging me into the boat.

“I couldn’t remember their faces very well as I was drifting in and out of consciousness at the time, so it’s really good to meet them. “We are just so grateful, if it weren’t for people like this risking their lives to save ours, we wouldn’t be there today.”

Hannah, who kept her friend afloat in the water before help arrived, said: “It feels good to know there are people willing to help others. “It just goes to show there are people you don’t know who are willing to risk their lives for others.

“It feels weird to know that someone we don’t know saved our lives. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Hannah’s mother, Tracy Woolacott, 45, said: “It was every parent’s worst nightmare. I am just so grateful that they are here and grateful to all that were involved in their rescue.”

The near-tragedy happened after the two walked along the sea wall after missing their train.

Within moments both had been swept into the water when waves knocked them off their feet.

Thrown a space hopper as makeshift buoyancy aid by a passer-by, Hannah feared they would both die as she battled against choppy waves in a bid to keep her semi-conscious friend’s head above water.

Lifeboatman Andy Williams, 30, who works at Exmouth Mussel Company, - a crew member for less than a year - said: “The expression on the girls’ faces is something I will never forget.

“The trip on the way back was very rough. We had to keep them warm, protected and keep their spirits up.”

Giles White, inshore lifeboat helmsman, said; “We had one shot at it as the waves were rebounding off the sea wall. We just had to take it.

“It is not that often you get to meet the people you rescue and it was a pleasure to meet the girls and see them looking so well.”

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