A naming ceremony for a new inshore lifeboat had only just finished when it was called to rescue four people trapped by the incoming tide on a South Shields beach.
The drama unfolded yesterday afternoon, after Tynemouth RNLI's new D Class inshore lifeboat 'Little Susie' was officially named.
The boat was funded by Pat and Susan Russell from Halifax, who saw it as a gift that would keep on giving for years to come.
Around 50 Invited guests joined the couple, the volunteer lifeboat crew and members of the Lifeboat Management Group at the ceremony at Tynemouth RNLI headquarters.
A few minutes after giving a short demonstration of the boat's capabilities, it was called out for real, along with the all-weather lifeboat, in front of all the guests.
The Coastguard alert said that four people had been reported in difficulty on the beach at Marsden Grotto, South Shields.
The lifeboats sped to the scene and the inshore lifeboat volunteer crew quickly discovered four people trapped on the beach by the rising tide.
They were brought on board in difficult surf conditions before being transferred to the all-weather lifeboat, where their condition was assessed by the volunteer crew.
One of the casualties was found to be suffering from extreme cold, and an ambulance was requested to meet the all-weather lifeboat at Sunderland Marina.
Once at Sunderland the casualties were passed into the care of paramedics and Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team.
Lifeboat operations manager David Stenhouse said: "We're pleased that Pat and Susan Russell saw the lifeboat that they have funded launch on a real lifesaving service, rescuing four people who could easily have drowned if they hadn't been rescued from the beach, showing just how vital the funding they provided is."