Lifeboat heroes told how four young children from Halifax – including a toddler – had to be plucked to safety from the sea in Blackpool as waves threatened to sweep them away.
The group on a day trip to the resort, including the two mums of the children, had become stranded while walking on sandbanks near Central Pier.
The terrified women frantically tried to keep the children above the neck-high water after they were caught out by sudden currents at noon last Thursday.
Onlookers called 999 and the mums and children were hauled to safety by Blackpool’s inshore lifeboat crews. The drama unfolded on the beach opposite Manchester Square, as crowds were enjoying the warm weather.
Lifeboat crew member Nathan Lee, who helped rescue the terrified group, said today: “The water was up to their necks when we reached them.
“They could have been swept away by the currents at any minute.
“Thankfully we reached them just in time, otherwise there could have been a much more tragic outcome.”
All the children were believed to be under eight years old.
Now the RNLI is warning people to be aware of the dangers when they go on the beach.
Mr Lee, who is an engineer at Blackpool Transport, said: “There is a lot of movement of the sand at the moment due to the currents, and that has created divots.
“This group was walking on some sandbanks but suddenly they got into a divot in the sand, and the water started to get deeper and deeper.
“They managed to get back onto a sandbank but the water came in around them up to their necks.
“One of the women had the toddler on her shoulder, while the other mum was holding up two of the other children, while the oldest child was standing just above the water.
“They were absolutely petrified and really cold as well. Thankfully the lifeboat reached them in time and we hauled all six of them into the boat.
“We got there just in time, because if they had been swept off the sandbank, there are a lot of dangerous currents and it could have been a very different story.”
The group was brought ashore and treated for mild hypothermia in a waiting ambulance, but they did not require hospital treatment.
Mr Lee added: “It took us about four minutes to get the lifeboat launched and reach the group.
“It’s lovely to see so many people enjoying the beach and the warm weather.
“All we ask is that people remain vigilant at all times, keep an eye on the tide and make sure that you can get off the beach safely.”