A quick-thinking lifeguard ran into the sea and pulled a four-year-old girl from the water after hearing her frantic mother shouting for help.

RNLI lifeguard Jamie Hannaford, who is currently on his second season as a paid lifeguard, was on a foot patrol along East Beach, West Bay, and was at the water’s edge advising swimmers near an area of the beach that is red flagged – meaning people should not enter the water there.

On his way back, approximately 30 metres from the red flag, he heard a mother shouting for her son to help his sister. After looking over, Jamie, 19, saw the young girl, around four years old, with her head going under and ‘climbing the ladder’ struggling to stay above water.

Jamie quickly ran into the water fully clothed to reach the girl, as there was no time to take off his T-shirt or first aid kit. After pulling the girl out of the water - which was around 1.5m deep - he carried her safely back to her family.

It is thought that the incident was caused by steep shelving which meant the girl quickly became out of her depth.

He then advised the family on the risk of secondary drowning, went through safety checks and advised of the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags – which is most closely monitored by lifeguards.

The RNLI says Jamie likely saved the girl's life yesterday afternoon.

If you or your family are going swimming at the beach, the RNLI always recommends visiting a lifeguarded beach and staying between the red and yellow flagged area.

Alice Higgins, lead lifeguard supervisor, said: "This was a fantastic example of quick thinking and Jamie’s rapid response to the incident almost certainly saved the young girl’s life.

"With extremely busy beaches this summer, we are asking everyone to help us out by keeping an eye on your family, following the advice of lifeguards and only swimming between the red and yellow flags."