Heatwave: York Rescue Boat volunteers plead for people not to swim in the Ouse

Volunteers who rescue people from one of Yorkshire's most notorious rivers have issued a stark message during the heatwave: Don't jump in - you could die.

The York Rescue Boat patrols the Ouse in the city centre every Friday and Saturday night, with volunteers on hand 24/7 to take the boat out if needed.

This year alone, over 40 rescue missions have taken place for people who have fallen or jumped into the river, with volunteers giving up over 5000 hours to help with efforts.

Most people who end up in the river either fall in due to excess drinking or are attempting to take their own lives.

The York Rescue Boat patrols the Ouse in the city centre every Friday and Saturday night, with volunteers on hand 24/7 to take the boat out if needed.

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But as thermometers soared on Monday and Tuesday, lead coxswain Mark Mullen said he's worried that people will get into trouble after deciding to go for a cooling swim.

He said: "You get people who go out in organised groups wild swimming, they're acclimitised to the water, they go to a quiet spot, and they're fine.

"But the issue comes when you have someone who says 'right, it's 40 degrees, I'm going to go on this bridge, take my trousers off and jump in - and then they end up with cold water shock.

"The water is still cold even though the air is red hot."

Mr Mullen has already had to rescue two people during the current spell of hot weather - including one man who he estimates was just seconds away from drowning.

"He was in drink," he said. "It was 11pm on Saturday evening - he jumped off Ouse Bridge.

"When we got to him, he had about 10 or 15 seconds left at best before he would have sunk. He was really struggling."

A spokesperson for the charity added: "All too often we hear ‘but I am a good swimmer’ as we are pulling someone into the safety of our boat or helping them to the side after they get into difficulty in the river. How many news stories do you see when family members and friends say ‘but they were a good swimmer’ when there has been a fatal drowning?"

Another rescue took place after a woman relaxing on one of the pontoons in the city centre fell in on Saturday afternoon.

Some 32 volunteers run the Rescue Boat, which was set up in 2014 following a spate of river deaths in the city, including that of student Megan Roberts.

Around 80 per cent of people the boat volunteers rescue as classed as "vulnerable".

A second boat is due to be named this weekend following fundraising by the family of Sonny Ferry, who died in the River Ouse following a night out in 2019.