AS DESPERATE Pamela Muirhead drifted out to sea on a paddleboard off the Ayrshire coast she remembers thinking: “I’m not dying today. My kids need me, I’ve not watched the last Line of Duty, for goodness sake.”

Now, a year on from her horror experience off the coast of Maidens, Pamela, from Beith, is working hard to raise funds for the Girvan RNLI team who saved her life.

Pamela, who recently persuaded a group of friends to join her on a cycle ride round Cumbrae on board a seven-seat circular bike to raise money for the lifeboat charity, says she “will forever be in debt” to the volunteers who saved her from the sea.

Recounting the experience to the Herald, she said: “It was not a good day.”

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Pamela, who had no previous paddleboarding experience, took to the waves along with her two children after winning a competition run by a new company set up by her friend.

She revealed: “The weather just changed so drastically, I was doing well just paddling, thinking ‘this is not too bad’.

“It was literally just like a light switch went off.

“It was horrendous. I was paddling still, but much faster and I wasn’t getting any closer into the shore.

“I was completely frozen to the board. In that sort of response to a traumatic event, you either fight, flight or freeze, I think I did initially freeze.”

She had been on the board in the sea for upwards of 40 minutes, though she said “it felt longer”.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The fund-raising teamThe fund-raising team

As she did not consider herself a good swimmer, she decided her best hope was to remain on the board, as conditions continued to worsen.

She continued: “Shallow water changed to intensely deep water by the wind just taking me out. My children were watching, which was horrific.

“At one point I thought ‘I’m going to fall off this board’. I was like, ‘I’m not dying today, it’s not happening’.

“I remember looking behind me and thinking ‘look at those waves, I really need help now’.

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“At that point I hear a helicopter and thought ‘flaming Nora, I’m going to get saved’, but the helicopter went by me and then disappeared.”

But seconds later she realised the helicopter had begun to circle above her location, and that, when it got close enough, it let off a flare.

That was when she realised that the Girvan RNLI crew was coming to her rescue – and after conquering the last stretch of water between her and her rescuers, three lifeboat crew dragged her to safety.

“I knew I had to stay on that board,” she said. “If I went into the water things could have been very different.

“I’m glad I didn’t go in the sea, because I don’t think I would be here to tell the tale and to share safety awareness.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: A well-deserved pit stop for a drink in the sunA well-deserved pit stop for a drink in the sun

That brought Pamela to her fund-raising efforts, and why exactly she felt so passionate about giving something back.

She said: “I’m really grateful. I didn’t realise that everyone at the lifeboat for RNLI were voluntary.

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“When I was rescued, they were very kind to me, getting me clothes, making sure I was warm and dry.

“They started dispersing. I thought they were away just cleaning up the boat or getting things organised.

“Someone said ‘they’re away back to their jobs’. I didn’t realise that, and I’m not sure if everyone realises that.”

The Girvan lifeboat crew, like all RNLI crew members around the coast of the UK and Ireland, do their work on a completely voluntary basis, and their life-saving service relies entirely on donations from members of the public.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The team embarked on the challenging journey on the circular seven-seater bikeThe team embarked on the challenging journey on the circular seven-seater bike

“I just thought ‘how courageous that is’,” Pamela concluded.

“People are risking their lives on a voluntary basis, and save other people’s lives. I’ve been trying to voice that.

“I’m really appreciative to all people that have donated, they’ve maybe even given a pound and I just think that’s amazing. Every penny counts – if you can give us a couple of pence that’s amazing.

“I just feel indebted and will forever be in their debt, because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them risking their lives, every day, 24/7.”

So far, Pamela and her friends have raised £900 for Girvan RNLI, and aim to hit their target of £1,000 before the organisation’s big gala day on Saturday, August 6 at 2pm. For more details check the ‘RNLI Girvan Lifeboat’ Facebook page.

For more on Pamela’s fund-raising, send a message to her Facebook page.