Our lead article this week LINK is the story of three holiday makers who came to Camber for a day’s fun on the beach only to end the day with two of them in hospital lucky to escape with their lives and the third who, sadly, was not so lucky.
On the face of it, Camber Sands is a safe family-friendly beach, wide, virtually all sand and gently shelving, giving lots of shallow water for children and the less confident adults. There is a permanent Coastguard presence and a civilian beach patrol. All angles seem to be covered.
Except one – the sea itself.
In the past most problems have been on shore – lost children, sudden illness, sunburn, too much alcohol etc. But also in the past, so many of the visitors have been regulars who have come to know the beach – the speed with which the tide comes in, the gullies that quickly fill with water, the ‘islands’ than can be surrounded by an incoming tide before the unwary realise it, and so on.
None of these things are necessarily dangerous, even the tidal rips, providing they are known about in advance and the swimmers and others are aware and know what to do if/when caught out. But this is where the problem is beginning to lie. As we reported, the nature of the visitors is starting to change with more people coming who are, perhaps, not as familiar with the British seaside as are the indigenous population and, maybe, do not realise the tidal range in and around Rye and Camber.
Two things are needed: First,information about the beach and its dangers must be available – Coastguard Rob Kass and his team are highly respected locally, but, even with the help of the beach patrol (enthusiastic, perhaps, but untrained) they cannot reasonably be expected to get round everyone on a crowded summer weekend.
Second, trained lifeguards are now needed. many beaches have them and the time has come when Camber Sands must have them as well. We understand that a petition has been started to bring this to the attention of our MP, the Home Secretary and we would hope that she would feel able to bring pressure to bear on Rother to provide and fund such a service.
It is neither right nor fair that the whole responsibility of safety should devolve on one Coastguard and his very small team and surely we, as residents of this tourist-popular area and the beneficiaries, in one form or another, of the money that they bring in, have a responsibility, too, to ensure that our visitors, whether to Camber or Rye, are kept as safe as reasonably possible.