RNLI sea swims to help ex-lifeguard after cancer

Who we are

We are the RNLI Lifeguards on South Shields beach and one of our own, Jake, has had rather a tough time of it recently. Jake worked with us over 8 summers on the beaches of South Tyneside and Sunderland.

He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (a rare bone cancer) in his neck of femur (right hip) and that’s not even the worst of it. The treatment consisted of a total of 12 months of chemotherapy and the amputation of Jakes entire right leg and half of his pelvis. Putting him in less than 1% of the amputee population. Jake has always been extremely active, having been a competitive swimmer and competing in many triathlons and half marathons over the years, so you can well imagine how devastating it must have been for him to lose his leg.

If you’d like to read more about Jake and his story (we fully recommend you do) then go to Jakes patient story 

Jake is taking part in a plethora of ridiculous activities, amazing when you consider he only has one leg. These include hill climbs, cycle races, swims, tough mudders and tough runners. Which most people would struggle to do with two legs!

What we’re doing

With Jake returning briefly to his home patch he has decided to do a 3-mile swim from the end of South Shields pier, to Marsden Grotto. To put that into perspective, the average iron man triathlon swim distance is 2.6 miles.  Now you may be thinking that a sea swim seems a very basic task for a group of beach lifeguards, but 3 miles is much further than most of us usually care to swim. People will take part in this event in various capacities, as we will be providing safety cover using our Inshore Rescue Boat and rescue boards, so some of us will only be doing half of the swim, making Jakes efforts even more incredible. With us taking on such a challenge, we expect this event to take around 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete.

At the same time a group of lifeguards in Hastings will complete a similar swim. Lifeguards are a close knit community and family. So when one of our own needs support we will help in anyway we can. That is why a south eastern contingent is mirroring the same swim off the coast of Hastings. Yes it will be warmer but still the same amount of fitness and effort is required.

We'll be doing the swims on Thursday 29th July from around 6:30 pm.


Why we’re doing it

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows him, that Jake has set his sights on competing in para-sports at a high level, unfortunately though, he is going to need some equipment which doesn’t come cheap.

The goal is to raise:

-        £5000 for a racing wheelchair

-        £10,000 for a hand cycle

We are all incredibly close with Jake and a lot of us had the privilege of having him batter us in various RNLI swim tests ad sea swims, so naturally, we felt compelled to get involved. Not only has working for the RNLI given us some amazing memories, it has given us friendships that last beyond the workplace, which is why we feel such responsibility to help Jake achieve these goals. As he, without hesitation, has helped all of us out in some way over the years. Our bond comes from our experiences working through some difficult situations together, banding together in the challenging and unpredictable (occasionally harsh) conditions of the North East Summer season, to save lives at sea. Jake taught us many lessons over the years, such as improving our colouring in skills and our paddle boarding in the North Sea. He also had a unique ability to eject himself from fast moving boats, though thankfully nobody else picked up that skill from him. Jake was an integral part of our team for a number of years and was seen by many of us as a father figure (or a fun uncle) before he retired from lifeguarding, then came back, before retiring again. 

So please help us raise money to help Jake with his ridiculous endeavour. Any funds raised from this fundraiser will be split between Jake’s racing fund and the RNLI.

To see what other nonsense Jake is getting up to for this feel free to visit his fundraiser page: Go fund me Get Jake Racing 




  • Alison Mell 
    • £50 
    • 12 d
  • Eddie Lamb 
    • £25 
    • 20 d
  • Anonymous 
    • £10 
    • 28 d
  • Barney Necus 
    • £50 
    • 1 mo
  • Nathan Taylor 
    • £10 
    • 1 mo
See all

Fundraising team (4)

Jake Woods 
Raised £1,245 from 49 donations
South Shields, UK
Tom Spencer 
Team member
Raised £405 from 25 donations
Feargus Scherczer 
Team member
Raised £90 from 8 donations
Aaron Curle 
Team member
Raised £30 from 1 donation
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