“It Was Pretty Exciting.” Lifeboat Volunteers Rush Off Mid-Wedding To Save 6 Lives.

groom and bride walking down the aisle through archway made from lifeboat volunteers holding up oars

As much as we try to make sure weddings go off without a hitch, every couple who has ever tied the knot has at least one story about how something didn’t go as planned on their big day. For Ashley and Cheryl Witcombe, that included four of their guests rushing off to save the lives of six strangers.

Like his heroic guests, Ashley is a lifeboat volunteer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the largest charity that rescues people around the coast of the U.K. and beyond. So, although he wasn’t surprised when his friends’ pagers went off on his wedding day, the timing was impeccable.

As Ashley and Cheryl made their grand exit from the ceremony, officially husband and wife, their lifeboat volunteer friends lined the aisle to create an arch using their oars. Mere moments later, their pagers signaled that it was time for them to go.

“They’d literally just got married,” said their photographer, Becky Payne. “We went outside and just after we took a couple of pictures they had to run. It was pretty exciting.”

With no time to waste, the volunteers rushed toward a small beach on Ilfracombe in Devon, where a group had become stranded.

The conditions for this particular rescue were quite challenging, but the crew managed to save all three adults and three children. Plus, it only took them seven minutes to get from the venue to the boat!

“We hope the pagers didn’t disrupt Ashley and Cheryl’s special day too much, although I’m sure it’s something they’re both used to,” said Leigh Hanks, one of the volunteers. “It’s not the first time the pagers have gone off at a crew wedding, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”

Later that day, while Ashley, Cheryl, and their loved ones continued to celebrate their union, training practice led their lifeboat crew friends back to their seaside venue. As they drove past, they made sure to give the newlyweds a wave. What a perfect way for them to cap off the day!

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