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Teacher drowned jumping into sea to save son who got into difficulty kayaking

A teacher drowned after jumping into rough seas to try and save her son who got into difficulty while kayaking, an inquest heard today.

Danielle Chilvers, 37, was caught in strong waves and a suspected riptide as other rescuers managed to help her youngest son, 14, and his friend back to shore.

The mum was seen floating face down beside a shore barrier around 30ft to 40ft off the beach in Waxham, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard.

A surfer swam out on his board to help her and she was brought back to shore with the help of a lifeboat crew which had just arrived from nearby Sea Palling.

Coastguards desperately tried to resuscitate Mss Chilvers, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by an air ambulance doctor on the afternoon of August 9 this year

The tragedy happened after her son and another boy found themselves being swept out to sea after tumbling out of their kayak.

The pair were spotted in difficulties and Miss Chilvers of Swaffham, Norfolk, went in the water to help them.

Chris Gribble, the chief executive of the National Centre for Writing, told in a statement how he and a friend had managed to save the two boys.

He revealed that he had earlier been in the water for 20 minutes, but had come out because the waves had got too big.

Mr Gribble said he became worried when he saw the “two youngish boys” separated from their kayak in the water.

He said: “They were both distressed and crying for help.”

Mr Gribble swan out and grabbed the kayak and was pushing it through the water towards the boy who was further out when it was caught by a wave and hit him on the head, forcing him to let go of it

He carried on swimming towards the boy while the other boy was rescued by his friend Pasco Kevlin.

Mr Gribble described how he was struggling against the waves to bring the boy back and feared being swamped when he became aware of a woman trying to help him.

He said: “I realised we were not making progress. The riptide was keeping us out. The boy started to panic. I kept shouting, puling and pushing him.

“The female eventually had to leave and swam back to shore. The boy was struggling and wanted to be sick. I told him to keep going.”

Mr Gribble said he eventually got the boy back to the beach and became aware of CPR being given to a woman.

Another beach-goer Lucy Farrant said: “The sea was rough and the air temperature was cold. There was a strong wind and a sea fret was hovering. We decided not to swim for all these reasons.”

As the two boys were being rescued, she became aware of a person lying face down in the water after at first thinking they were a seal.

She added: “I saw a young man with a surf board launch himself into the sea. I could see the surfer struggling. It was clear he was losing strength.”

A post mortem found that Miss Chilvers who also had a 17-year-old son had drowned.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a misadventure conclusion, saying: “I am satisfied this was an unintended outcome of an intended act. This very tragic death demonstrates the dangers of our coastline.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who helped and risked their own lives, including those on the beach on the day and the Coastguards and lifeboat service.”

She added: “Two boys were in the water in a craft. I heard that the sea was rough and there was a strong wind.

“They became separated from their boat. Members of the public went into the sea in an attempt to save the boys.

“Despite the very rough sea, they were able to bring them back to shore. Another body was then seen in the sea.

“A surfer tmanaged to bring Miss Chilvers back to shore. Miss Chilvers was unconscious and attempts were made at resuscitation, but she was declared dead at the scene.”

Miss Chilvers who was a keen gardener worked in a safeguarding role at Nicholas Hamond Academy, a secondary school and sixth form in Swaffham.

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