'˜I've saved six lives at South Shields clifftop - but more needs to be done'

A mental health nurse wants to create a permanent clifftop lifesaving service in South Tyneside - after saving a man from potential tragedy for the sixth time.

Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 7:31 am
The cliffs at Marsden Bay.

Phil Brown, 63, says his latest Groundhog Day drama has inspired him to try and set up a volunteer team on the cliffs in South Shields.

Mr Brown’s latest brush with drama happened as he was out jogging at 6.50pm on Friday and saw spotted a man who looked agitated, heading towards 50ft-high cliffs at Frenchman’s Bay, South Shields.

Phil Brown

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Worried for his safety, he followed, grabbing the man’s left arm seconds after he had climbed over the metal safety barrier.

He talked him back to safety and stayed until emergency teams arrived.

Mr Brown, a long-time campaigner for better safety measures along The Leas, now wants to help pull other people back from the brink.

He has started an appeal to raise at least £4,500 to buy a bus that would act as a mobile base for a trained volunteer team.

Phil Brown

It would operate overnight from a yet-to-be-decided location along the beauty spot – giving anyone contemplating ending their life immediate access to support.

The dad-of-two said: “I’m determined to do all I can to help people who may be thinking about ending their lives. These cliffs are a thing of beauty, but they attract people who are thinking about suicide.

“In this case, I suspected something was wrong and was able to grab hold of an arm and stop him going any further.”

He added: “South Tyneside Council has done some great things in improving safety along The Leas, such as putting in marker posts, but more must be done.

“I’d prefer to establish a permanent centre that could act as a seaside education centre during the day but be manned at night to help people thinking of suicide.

“That idea hasn’t got anywhere yet but having a converted bus, with seats and a table where someone can sit and get help, would be great.”

Last week, the Gazette reported how the council had installed a CCTV camera on the cliff top to give operators early warning of potential tragedies.”

Mr Brown said he hoped enough money can be raised to have the bus operational by the end of the year.

Donations can be made by contacting Phil at [email protected]

A council spokesman said: “As part of the council’s whole-community approach to suicide prevention, we are committed to working with partners, communities, groups, mental health services and individuals to tackle this issue.”