South Shields dad calls for '˜Cliff Angels' after teen death tragedy

A South Tyneside man aims to create a network of '˜Cliff Angels' to prevent further tragedies on the borough's coastline.

Tuesday, 16th August 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:05 pm
Flowers left on the cliff tops at Marsden, South Shields, for 17-year-old Chirelle Calder.

Kirk Wilson’s potentially life-saving plan – a network of volunteers to look out for people in danger – has already won backing from hundreds of people online.

Mr Wilson launched his idea after being out with his family on Saturday morning and seeing the emergency services descend on the cliffs at Marsden, South Shields.

Kirk Wilson with his wife Ashleigh and their sons Keane and Kal-El.

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The tragedy claimed the life of 17-year-old Chirelle Calder, from Whiteleas, South Shields, who fell from the cliffs and later died.

Mr Wilson wants a team of volunteers to be based round-the-clock at a cabin on The Leas - from which they will be able to help vulnerable people.

Within 24 hours the Facebook group has attracted 1,577 members offering their help and support.

Mr Wilson, who is married to Ashleigh, and has sons Keane, five, and Kal-El, 17 months, said: “Marsden is a great place to take your family but, over the years, I’ve lost quite a few people because of those cliffs.

Kirk Wilson with his wife Ashleigh and their sons Keane and Kal-El.

“I don’t know whether it’s because of social media, but you just seemed to hear about deaths there more and more. I thought would it be a good idea if we could have some kind of rota system where there’s always someone there willing to help people.

“Within a few minutes, the group was getting people joining and I am amazed at the response.”

Mr Wilson, who is an account manager for Utilitywise, hopes that a cabin would become a safe haven for those in need.

He has already been in contact with South Tyneside Council about his idea.

He said: “Imagine if there was a person there all the time. They could look out for people feeling a bit vulnerable or not aware of the dangers.”

He added: “It would also be beneficial if they had some level of training so I am looking into that.

“I work full time and so do many others, so we would need a fair few volunteers. I just think if we were given permission then this really would work.

“So many people are supporting this and recognise there is a need for a service like this.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We were saddened to hear of the incident at the weekend in which a young girl lost her life.

“We are always keen to take into account the views of our residents, and partners, so will look to meet with Kirk in the near future.”

To join the group, search for ‘Cliff Angels South Shields’ on Facebook.