A GROUP of people who got into trouble in the sea during a coasteering trip on which a man died linked arms to survive.

Members of the group – which included children – were almost swept away earlier this year. It happened as Iain Richard Farrell, a dad on a trip with his sons, drowned.

Mr Farrell, 49 and of Dorney, near Windsor, fell unconscious in the water off Dancing Ledge in May.

He was quickly taken to land, but other members of the same group then got into difficulty. During the briefing given before the trip began, participants were told to link arms and float if they were unable to make it back to shore.

As a result of their actions, volunteers from Swanage’s lifeboat crew found it easier to find and rescue them.

Sophie Dunford was among those taken aboard all-weather lifeboat the George Thomas Lacy. She has since raised thousands for the charity.

Swanage coxswain Dave Turnbull said: “We knew that one member of the group had been taken ill and was ashore, but the remainder of the group were still in the water.

"Our inshore lifeboat took crew ashore to help with the ill casualty and we immediately commenced a search to find the missing group.

“As the coasteerers had formed a ring by linking arms they were easy to spot, having drifted to the west, and we went straight to them.”

The rescue was classified as a ‘life saved’, because without the assistance of the lifeboat the casualties may not have survived.

Sophie recently held a fundraising night. The event raised more than £2,100 for the Swanage RNLI, which she presented to crew at the weekend.

Volunteer lifeboat crew member Andy Redout said: “It was amazing to hear Sophie talk about the rescue from her perspective and understand how relieved she was to see the lifeboat arrive.

“Sophie said to us that members of the coasteering group had kept in touch since the incident despite having never met before, which made us realise what an impact a rescue can have on people’s lives.

“We had no idea Sophie had raised so much money from her fundraising event, so it was great to meet her and be able to say thank you.”

A full inquest into Mr Farrell’s death will take place on March 13.