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Lifeboats kept busy

PUBLISHED: 13:57 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:30 05 July 2010

EAST Anglia's lifeboat crews experienced a steep rise in callouts to sailing craft last year - from 169 to 204 - despite the wet summer.

The number of launches to fishing vessels also went up significantly - from 23 to 40 - as did those to boats experiencing engine failure, from 92 to 110.

EAST Anglia's lifeboat crews experienced a steep rise in callouts to sailing craft last year - from 169 to 204 - despite the wet summer.

The number of launches to fishing vessels also went up significantly - from 23 to 40 - as did those to boats experiencing engine failure, from 92 to 110.

Even with the washout weather in June and July deterring beachgoers, the total number of RNLI launches in the region dropped only marginally from 2,472 to 2,308.

RNLI spokesman Richard Wynn said: “Considering the dismal weather, the lifeboat launch figures reveal that the level of service was unchanged, with a consistently high proportion of rescues to sailing craft - that figure representing one third of the region's total launches.”

He emphasised the fact the RNLI offered free safety advice for sea users to help people prepare for all types of conditions.

In Norfolk, the busiest stations were Gorleston, where 65 launches resulted in the rescue of 75 people, and Wells, which experienced 40 launches and 40 rescues.

Gorleston lifeboat operations manager Neil Duffield said: “For us the poor summer meant an increase in holidaymakers who needed rescuing after running aground in Breydon Water.

“We think of it as the Broads but it is a big expanse of water and can be quite perilous at times.”

He highlighted the station's most dramatic rescue as that of nine-year-old Jade Kerrison who was only saved after plunging 12ft from the quayside into the River Yare by an exceptionally fast launch of the inshore boat.

In another lifesaving mission off Winterton, Norwegian taxi driver Tom Hanson was plucked to safety after his motor cruiser crashed into the side of a North Sea ferry, curtailing his voyage of a lifetime.

Around the coastline, RNLI stations from Southwold to Hunstanton carried out 214 rescues through the year while independent stations at Caister and Hemsby were also kept busy.

Ahead of a national day of fundraising on Friday - RNLI SOS Day - charity organisers are concerned people may be deterred from giving their support because they confuse the voluntary RNLI with HM Coastguard, which is threatening strike action in a long-running pay dispute.

Mr Wynn said: “All RNLI rescues, equipment and the training that our volunteer crews require can only be provided thanks to the generosity of the general public. Without their goodwill, our service would not be able to keep pace with ongoing demands.”

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