Seven people believed to be collecting cockles had a real fright and were ‘lucky to come ashore alive’ after getting lost in swirling fog off the north Wirral coast on Hallowe’en

Seven people believed to be collecting cockles had a real fright and were ‘lucky to come ashore alive’ after getting lost in swirling fog off the north Wirral coast on Hallowe’en.

Hoylake RNLI volunteers were called out to search for ‘persons heard shouting for help’ from the sandbanks near the old Derby Pool site at Harrison Drive.

UK Coastguard requested the help of the versatile hovercraft at 6.22pm after several 999 calls from concerned members of the public. Two people were found a short distance from the embankment and returned to shore. A further group of five people managed to find their own way ashore shortly afterwards.

Hoylake is one of the RNLI's oldest stations, established in 1803

Hoylake lifeboat station was established in 1803, 21 years before the RNLI itself

The hovercraft – launched in darkness as well as thick swirling fog – ensured no one else was still on the sandbanks.

Information from Coastguard Rescue Officers on scene suggested that the persons lost in the fog could have been cocklers with no knowledge of the very dangerous local conditions.

The four-strong hovercraft crew made a thorough search of the foreshore and sandbanks in difficult conditions, liaising with Coastguard Rescue Teams. With visibility down to five metres at times, the hovercraft twice stopped its engines while the crew listened for any replies to their loudhailer offers of assistance.

The hovercraft was stood down at 7.20pm and returned to Hoylake Lifeboat Station.

Operations Manager Dave Whiteley said he was grateful to those members of the public who raised the alarm.

Take precautions before venturing out in fog

Take precautions before venturing out in fog

“They did the right thing and did not put themselves at risk,” he said.

“It’s extremely dangerous to venture out on to the sandbanks without local knowledge. These people went out onto the banks in the dark, in thick fog and with a rising tide.

“They were very lucky to come ashore alive. If you want to explore the sandbanks, find out when and where it’s safe to go from local RNLI lifeboat stations or lifeguards, coastguards, sailing clubs or fishermen.

“Look for warning notices and follow the advice. Don’t risk your life and the lives of those who may be called on to rescue you,” said Dave.

Hoylake RNLI station is one of the oldest in the country having been established in 1803.