Record year for Felixstowe rescuers

VOLUNTEER rescuers patrolling Felixstowe's coastline had a record year as they attended more incidents than ever before.The group blamed the long hot summer attracting more people to the resort for the unexpected growth in call-outs, and the continually changing sandbanks catching out walkers who ventured out onto the shingle shoals.

By Richard Cornwell

VOLUNTEER rescuers patrolling Felixstowe's coastline had a record year as they attended more incidents than ever before.

The group blamed the long hot summer attracting more people to the resort for the unexpected growth in call-outs, and the continually changing sandbanks catching out walkers who ventured out onto the shingle shoals.

Members of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service patrol the resort's five-mile seafront at weekends and is often tasked by the Coastguard to help out at incidents with which their officers are dealing.

Chairman John Cresswell said the group had helped at 79 incidents last summer and this year was required on 84 occasions.

"We had not expected to be anywhere near as busy this season – however, this was not the case," said Mr Cresswell.

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"The unexpected increase was mainly due to the exceptional summer attracting many more people afloat and using the beaches."

The group was tasked by Thames Coastguard 22 times and its vessel Volunteer covered a distance of 4,137 miles on routine patrols and attending incidents.

Mr Cresswell said the incidents which the service's fully-trained volunteers attended included helping broken down craft, capsized sailing dinghies, windsurfers and jet-skiers in trouble, craft aground, searching for missing vessels, and dealing with inflatables blown offshore.

Major incidents included helping when a rigid inflatable boat with six divers on board got into difficulty in rough seas with Volunteer towing them to Harwich lifeboat station, and also rescuing two young girls found clinging to the piles at the end of Felixstowe pier.

Shore staff also treated many people needing first aid, and gave water safety advice to people on the beaches.

Mr Cresswell recently received an award for leadership of the service from the Beacon Fellowship Trust of London.

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