Busiest summer on record for lifeboat crews

HEROIC lifeboat crews across Suffolk and Essex have carried out a record number of rescues - with call-outs in one area increasing by 150% compared to last year.

Annie Davidson

HEROIC lifeboat crews across Suffolk and Essex have carried out a record number of rescues - with call-outs in one area increasing by 150% compared to last year.

The 2009 statistics, which were made public today, reveal that Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the east of England had their busiest ever summer this year.

According to the preliminary figures Harwich was the second busiest lifeboat station in the region, with crews attending 52 incidents compared to 20 the year before, a rise of 73%.

Lowestoft saw a 33% increase in call-outs from 15 in 2008 to 20 in 2009, while Aldeburgh was called out five times compared to 13 the year before and Southwold stayed the same, attending six incidents.

Lifeboats at Walton and Frinton had an increase of 150%, attending 15 incidents compared to just six the summer before, crews in nearby Clacton were called out 37 times compared to 33 for the same period in 2008 while in West Mersea the number of incidents attended was down this year to 25 from 30.

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Andrew Ashton, RNLI divisional inspector, said: “Lifeboat stations have carried out more rescues than ever. While public awareness of our safety messages has increased demand for our lifeboats to launch has been higher than ever possibly down to more people holidaying at home this summer, and the good weather East Anglia has seen, the best for a number of years.”

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station in East Anglia this summer was Southend-on-Sea, with 84 launches - a 115% increase on the 2008 figure of 39.

Mr Ashton added: “Increasingly water-based activities are more accessible to the general public. While the majority enjoy their water sports without getting into trouble, some end up needing the help of the RNLI's lifeboat volunteers, so it's really important that this group of sea users supports us.”

Over all RNLI East Anglian lifeboats launched 385 times during June, July and August compared to 277 times the previous summer,

As a charity, the RNLI relies totally on the generosity of the public to fund its services.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can visit www.rnli.org.uk , call 0800 543210 or write to RNLI, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HZ.