Terrier survives 55m cliff top plunge into sea from Seaford Head

Clare Callard with her children and lifeguard Ian Jones
Clare Callard with her children and lifeguard Ian Jones

A dog which leapt from Seaford Head and miraculously survived the 55 metre fall without a scratch on her was rescued by Seaford Lifeguards.

Clare Callard was out for a walk along the cliff tops about 30 foot away from the edge with her terrier Lola but the dog chased a bird and plunged into the sea.

Newhaven Coastguard station officer Trevor Cutler said in the 23 years he had been a Coastguard, this was the first time had seen a dog survive falling from the cliffs.

He used the opportunity to remind people to keep their dogs on a lead when walking along the cliff tops.

Newhaven Coastguard is called to two or three cases a year where a dog dies jumping over the edge when off the lead.

Chairman of Seaford Lifeguards Pete Gwilliam said: “The dog’s lucky escape was due to the state of the tide, as it had fallen clear of the cliff and into the sea, and then managed to get on an inaccessible shingle beach east of Splash Point.

“Lola, once in the care of her owners, was rushed to a local vet who pronounced her miraculously uninjured but with just a little water that had entered her lungs.

“The close cooperation between ourselves and our colleagues at Newhaven coastguards brought a successful end to the incident, however, owners do need to use a lead when walking dogs on the cliffs.”

The Saturday morning stroll on Seaford Head on May 25 turned into a successful rescue by Seaford Lifeguards.

Distraught Clare telephoned the Coastguard and the call, intercepted by Seaford Lifeguards, saw beach lifeguards Ian Jones and Chris Payne rush to the animal’s assistance.

Meanwhile Clare’s two children, Joseph and Jessica, aged nine, and her husband Steve, were flying a kite in a nearby field, unaware of the drama which was unfolding.

Guided by a boat just offshore, and coordinated by Newhaven Coastguard, Ian used a surf rescue board and quickly paddled to the dog’s assistance.

He was helped by lifeguard Chris who returned the small dog, alive to its owner.

Clare, 47, of Quarry Road, Seaford, said: “She’s absolutely fine. She’s been playing with other dogs.

“It really is an absolute miracle. We are so delighted.

“She is everything to us. We love her and she is part of our family.”

Clare thanked two members of the public, Ron and his wife, who stopped to help and stayed with her, as well as the Lifeguards and Coastguards for rescuing Lola.

Station officer Trevor Cutler of Newhaven Coastguard congratulated the Lifeguards for a job well done.

Trevor, who attended the incident, said: “In the 23 years I have been a coastguard that is the only dog which we have recovered alive after falling from the cliffs.

“It’s a lovely coastal path but you have to bear in mind that when they see a bird or a ball they will be off after it.

“Always keep your dog on a lead when you’re walking on the cliffs or coastal paths and never attempt to go after the dog.

“Even looking over the cliffs - the ground is loose and crumbling.”