Second busiest summer for RNLI lifeboat crews in the north

Tuesday 26 September 2006

Author: Alison Levett

RNLI lifeboat crews in the charityís North Division have had their second busiest summer on record, with more than 500 launches in June, July and August.

Provisional figures* issued today (Tuesday 26 September) show the RNLIís volunteer lifeboatmen and women in the north launched their lifeboats 503 times over the three-month period. Only the summer of 2003 was busier, with an unprecedented 568 launches.

The busiest lifeboat station in the north this summer was Sunderland, with 43 launches. On the North West coast, New Brighton Lifeboat Station on the Wirral carried out the most launches, a total of 33. Other busy lifeboat stations included Skegness in Lincolnshire, where crews launched 35 times and Bridlington, East Yorkshire, with 30 launches.

Nationally, this summer was the RNLIís most demanding ever, with a total of 3,830 launches in the UK and Ireland. The busiest lifeboat stations were Tower Pier on the River Thames with 109 launches and Rhyl in North Wales, with 78.

The figures show that 78 per cent of the launches in the north this summer were carried out by the RNLIís rapid response inshore lifeboats, reflecting the fact that more people than ever before are using the sea for leisure pursuits such as sailing, kite surfing, jet skiing and diving. 

Andrew Ashton, RNLI Divisional Inspector in the North, said: ĎAs well as being called out to the traditional types of summer holiday rescues, such as people cut off by the tide and children swept away on inflatables, our lifeboat crews are rescuing more and more people who get into difficulty while carrying out activities such as jet skiing and kite surfing.

ĎA greater range of water-based activities, cheaper equipment and possibly higher temperatures means more people are now taking part in such activities. While the majority enjoy these water sports without getting into trouble, some do obviously end up needing the help of the RNLIís lifeboat volunteers. 

ĎAs a charity, the RNLI relies on the support and generosity of the public to fund our service, which last year cost an average £330,000 each day to run. I would urge anyone who spends time in or near the sea to consider making even a small donation to help us provide our volunteer crews with the very best training and equipment, ensuring they can carry on saving lives as safely and effectively as possible.í

To help people use the sea safely, the RNLIís Sea Safety team offers free and impartial advice. Their top five sea safety tips are:

  • Always wear a lifejacket
  • Check your engine and fuel
  • Tell others where you are going
  • Carry some means of calling for help (preferably a VHF radio)
  • Keep an eye on weather and tides

For more information and advice phone 0800 328 0600, email or visit

*Figures relating to lifeboat launches for summer 2006 are based on HM Coastguard search and rescue preliminary incident records.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The RNLIís North Division includes 33 lifeboat stations and stretches from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Skegness on the east coast and from Silloth to West Kirby on the west. 
  1. HM Coastguard initiate and co-ordinate civil maritime search and rescue (SAR) in the UK sea regions. During maritime emergencies on cliffs, beaches, the shoreline or at sea each of these authorities calls on RNLI lifeboats and RNLI lifeguards, which are declared search and rescue assets.

3.     The RNLI is running a fundraising campaign to raise funds for crew training. Called Train One, Save Many, the campaign aims to raise £10 million to provide essential training for volunteer lifeboatmen and women.

4.     In 2005, RNLI lifeboats were launched 8,273 times and rescued 8,104 people.

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