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Actors abseil for charity in Southwold

PUBLISHED: 11:17 10 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:27 06 July 2010

A PAIR of leading British actors have taken the plunge and thrown their support behind a campaign to help the RNLI train new volunteers.

Bernard Hill and David Morrissey joined forces yesterday to take part in a charity abseiling event in Southwold.

A PAIR of leading British actors have taken the plunge and thrown their support behind a campaign to help the RNLI train new volunteers.

Bernard Hill and David Morrissey joined forces yesterday to take part in a charity abseiling event in Southwold.

Mr Hill, well known for playing King Theoden in the film trilogy adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, was the first to descend down the resort's iconic lighthouse after Mr Morrissey, who played Gordon Brown in the BAFTA-winning drama The Deal, sounded the klaxon to launch the proceedings.

The two actors both have homes in the area and said they were keen to support the charity after seeing its crews in action all too frequently.

Mr Morrissey is currently the narrator of the BBC1 series Seaside Rescue, which follows the work of the RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crews and RNLI lifeguards.

He said that after watching them work close-up he fully realised what an “amazing” job they did.

He said: “I live up here a lot of the time and you see the guys going out in the boats and you realise the seriousness of it.

“But by doing Seaside Rescue I saw the real importance of the job and how the volunteers work so hard and are so brave.

“It's a fantastic institution and I'm so grateful that they are around. The sea is such a treacherous and unpredictable thing, we need to treat it with great respect.

“I'm very happy to support them in all their activities and fundraising because they are such an important group of people.”

Mr Hill, a member of Southwold Sailing Club and a keen climber and experienced abseiler, said it was “pathetic” that the RNLI had to depend on public funding as it provided such an essential life-saving service.

He said: “It shouldn't be a charity - it should be a state-funded institution like the NHS. It's a mark of the quality of the people that volunteer for it because people would just die out there without their help.

“It's a vital service. People don't understand what the sea is about and how dangerous it can be, that in five minutes it can all change.”

During the day more than 50 people abseiled down the lighthouse, including 12 Southwold RNLI lifeboat crew.

One of those was Lifeboat operations manager John Huggins, who said it had been a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to try something he had always wanted to do.

All the money raised will go towards the RNLI's national Train one, Save many campaign, which has been set up to fund the training of volunteer lifeboat crews.

For more information about the RNLI, visit www.rnli.org.uk.

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