Boat owner and charity swimmer among those to save migrants in danger on Channel crossing

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken


A man out fishing and another swimming the Channel for charity, are among those who have come to the aid of migrants in danger during the crossing to the UK.

Steve Erends was on a fishing trip with friends off the Sussex coast when he saw a family in distress in the water.

On an overloaded boat were five adults and two young children, who had been sailing for more than 12 hours.

Steve Erends Credit: ITV News Meridian

Steve said: "The children were crying and shaking, they were wet as well, just desperate to get help really. They never had a clue where they were. Apparently they rang the police from somewhere in the Channel but they had no navigational equipment to know where they were or anything."

To actually see it with your own eyes, and young children being sick and shivering and one bag of clothes between them all, all their belongings, it's sad.

Steve Erends, Boat owner

A helicopter and two lifeboats were called in to help and the family were towed to shore.

They are among more than 4,000 migrants who have crossed the English Channel in small boats this year.

Channel swimmer Justin Legge

On Friday, Channel swimmer Justin Legge was returning from the 31 mile swim for charity on a support boat when he spotted three young men waving from an inflatable kayak.

They were sinking and still 10 miles away from Dover.

Justin said: "Everyone's got different situations why they want to come to the UK and I think you have to do the right thing, you wouldn't leave someone out at sea to drown, hopefully not, so you just have to do the right thing really."

After reporting it to British authorities, they got permission to bring the three men on board and bring them to Dover.

Justin's wife Charlotte said: "It's quite distressing, they were only young, especially when you're a mother, it kind of hits quite hard. But the pilot had to do what he did because there was no way that these three men would've made it."

The three men were taken to Dover where they were handed over to Border Force officials.

They made the crossing, along with thousands before them. But the government is now hoping that calling in the Navy will stop others from joining them.