An angler from Caerphilly who nearly lost his life after he was swept out to sea has been reunited with his Royal National Lifeboat Institution rescuers to launch the charity’s fundraising week.
Mike Dooley, 41, was fishing off the harbour at Porthcawl last Christmas when a large wave pulled him into the sea.
Mr Dooley said: “I saw it coming over and before I had time to react, I was knocked flat on the ground.
“My hands were out and I was being dragged across the concrete of the pier and then suddenly I felt nothing beneath me and I just dropped over the edge.”
Mike’s attempts to swim back to the pier proved fruitless, as the stormy conditions battered him with waves and swept him further away from land.
He added: “I was only in the water for a few minutes but already the pier looked small and a long way away. It was terrifying and I was starting to wonder if I could survive this.
“I was trying not to take on any water but I could feel it in my lungs.
“I was hypothermic and getting desperate so I started to scream for help and just after that I felt hands grabbing my coat, and I thought, ‘Oh thank God, the lifeboat is here.’”
A lifeboat was launched just ten minutes from the moment the alarm was raised, but Mike was already a quarter of a mile out to sea.
RNLI volunteer Simon Emms, who pulled him aboard the lifeboat, said: “When we reached Mike, he was in pretty precarious situation, the sea was terribly cold and he was unable to stay afloat for much longer.
“It could have been a very different Christmas for Mike’s family had the alarm not been raised in time. We’re just thankful we reached him when we did and are delighted to be meeting him again. It makes what we do worthwhile.”
The RNLI is run by volunteers, and the charity has launched its week of fundraising events, called Mayday.
From Tuesday April 26 to Monday May 2, there are a range of activities taking place along the Welsh coast.
Mike, who is a music teacher, said: “When I heard about the RNLI’s Mayday campaign I wanted to do what we could to help and raise awareness of the amazing job these volunteers do. I will be eternally thankful to them.
“Please give what you can this Mayday as you never know when you may need their help.”
Visit RNLI.org/Mayday to donate and for more information about fundraising activities.