Family's thanks to lifeboat crew + VIDEO

A family today thanked the lifeboat crew who rescued them after they were left stranded at sea.

Alan Granton, 39, took wife Emma, 37, and children Christopher, 13, and Daniel, 11, out on Sunday for their last trip of the year.

But one mile from Sunderland South Pier the propeller of their boat got stuck in lobster-pot lines.

Alan, who works as a teacher with his wife at Castle View Academy in Sunderland, said: "I was really worried. When you get out there it can be really calm one minute and it can change very quickly. We were stuck fast. We weren't going anywhere."

The family, from Henley Way, Boldon Colliery, radioed for help and minutes later Sunderland RNLI were on the scene.

The crew rescued the children and took them back to Sunderland Marina before coming back for Emma, Alan and their border terrier Archie.

Alan said: "The guys were fantastic. One of them jumped into the sea and dragged the rope from underneath the boat, which was really brave.

"He got it free so we could be towed back with me, my wife and the dog.

"We thought the RNLI were absolutely amazing even in just getting us back on our moorings."

An RNLI spokesman said Alan saved the boat from sinking by shutting the engine down as soon as he realised what had happened.

If he had not done so, the caught propeller could have damaged the body of the boat.

While Alan and Emma feared for their family's safety, the boys, both pupils at Southmoor Community School, enjoyed the excitement.

Archie also enjoyed the attention and ended up taking centre stage on the rescue video posted on Youtube.

The charity's volunteers took a picture of the dog, posing at the wheel of the boat, wearing his little life jacket. The image will be used on the RNIL's website to promote the use of life jackets in their new campaign.

The Echo is trying to raise 10,000 to put seven RNLI volunteers through 12 months' operational training. Last week the total broke the 8,000 mark.

If you would like to donate, send cheques to Launch a Lifesaver, c/o James Johnston, Sunderland Echo, Echo House, Pennywell, Sunderland SR4 9ER, or call 0191-501 7264, email james.johnston@northeast-press.co.uk