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A network of help for those in peril

PUBLISHED: 16:36 30 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:50 09 March 2010

The Felixstowe Coast Patrol Rescue Service team, kneeling from left, Jon Harvey, John Cresswell and Wayne Akers, standing, Dave Jones and Jason Farthing

The Felixstowe Coast Patrol Rescue Service team, kneeling from left, Jon Harvey, John Cresswell and Wayne Akers, standing, Dave Jones and Jason Farthing

THEY say worse things happen at sea - and along Suffolk's coast there is a network of rescue services ready in case it should all go horribly wrong.

THEY say worse things happen at sea - and along Suffolk's coast there is a network of rescue services ready in case it should all go horribly wrong.

Hundreds of incidents happen along the county's coast every year, but thankfully most of them minor - yachts with fouled propellers and engine trouble, the occasional boat grounded on sandbanks, or a sailboarder separated from their board.

But sometimes there are far more serious incidents, people needing to be rescued in terrifying and dangerous circumstances, with the enormous waves of the cold North Sea surging all around them.

At Felixstowe, there are a network of organisations which work together - co-ordinated by Thames Coastguard - to deal with emergencies which happen off the coast.

The RNLI inshore and offshore lifeboats at Harwich are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, manned by volunteers.

They cover an area from Walton-on-the-Naze to Aldeburgh, across the North Sea to the Hook of Holland and Zeebrugge, and which includes the rivers Orwell, Stour and Deben.

The team averages 120 call outs a year to a wide range of situations where sailors, swimmers and other water users need help.

Felixstowe is lucky in having one of the Coastwatch stations set up around the country's shores - with a team of volunteers watching the sea from the old Martello Tower Coastguard station at Wireless Green on weekends and Bank Holidays and often the first to spot an incident and report it to the Coastguard.

Sector manager for the Coastguard for Felixstowe is Jo Arlow who works with a rescue team of volunteers drawn from different walks of life.

Also part of the network is the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service, which operates on summer weekends from Cobbold's Point, patrolling the coast in its rescue boat to ensure people stay safe and dealing with a wide variety of incidents, often tasked by the Coastguard to attend.

This year the service attended 55 incidents, helping 93 people, including saving the lives of two brothers aged nine and 14 swept offshore in an inflatable dinghy.

Also vital is the support of the search and rescue unit and helicopters from Wattisham, along with the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club rescue boat Giles, and any major search is also helped by any craft in the area at the time.


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