Decade of service for coast patrol

COAST patrol and rescue volunteers will next summer celebrate a decade of service to Felixstowe - but still need sponsorship to keep the crews operating.

COAST patrol and rescue volunteers will next summer celebrate a decade of service to Felixstowe - but still need sponsorship to keep the crews operating.

This summer the craft Volunteer and its crew attended 36 incidents, helping 54 people, a 20 per cent increase in call-outs on the previous year.

Members of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service were tasked to help out at a wide variety of emergencies - ranging from capsized boats and jet-skis to yachts in trouble, from inflatables swept out to sea to a hiker with a broken leg stranded on a beach.

Chairman John Cresswell said Volunteer would celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2007 barring any unforeseen setbacks, and continued financial support from businesses and the community.

He said: “Volunteer is undergoing her annual refit and winter training has commenced for the volunteers.

“Unfortunately, the recent recruiting drive has proved disappointing as out of eight people who submitted application forms only two have made a firm commitment.

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“It is policy not to poach from other groups so we are still recruiting and in addition compiling a list of suitable auxiliary volunteers who can assist on an as and when basis.”

There had been doubts over whether the service would run this summer after it hit major financial problems.

Mr Cresswell said it still suffered from the lack of a main core sponsor.

He said: “We have had a very successful season and I think that shows how vital it is to keep Volunteer on patrol. Our increase in incidents is in line with the national trend.

“Our success is without doubt due to the dedication of the volunteers and the faith in them shown by the authorities, organisations and people who gave both their moral and financial support.”

Pay your tribute to the work of the coast patrol volunteers - write to the Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Patrolling the coast

The crews gave 42 days of safety cover this summer, covering 3,420 miles, attending 36 incidents involving 54 people.

On many of the call-outs they were tasked to attend by the Coastguard and also police.

Incidents included dealing with swimmers, inflatables, kite-surfers, jet-skis, small boats, fouled props and rudders, craft with engine problems safety and navigation warnings, pollution and wildlife.

In the past nine years the crews have given 469 days of cover, attending 490 incidents, helping 792 people afloat and ashore.

Nationally there has been a huge increase in people enjoying their recreation on the coast - with 4.5 million pleasure craft now in our waters, plus other activities.

source: Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service

FASTFACTS: Coming to the rescue

Incidents attended by the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service this summer included:

Rescuing two jet-skiers in trouble off the Deben Bar at Bawdsey in moderate to rough sea. The pair were clad only in shorts and T-shirts and were clinging to their capsized machines - they were suffering water inhalation, hypothermia and cold-shock.

The crew were hailed by a lone hiker on Bawdsey beach who had broken his leg after falling over a groyne and had crawled half a mile along the shore trying to find help or attract the attention of a passing craft.

Helping a lone sailor who capsized seven times in his dinghy in the shipping channel off Felixstowe - the crew escorted him back to shore and safety once he was back in his boat.

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