By STEVE DOWNES
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Suffolk saw a big spike in rescue launches as East Anglia’s lifeboat crews had another busy year in 2013, the latest figures show.
The RNLI has today published a detailed breakdown of every lifeboat launch, how many people were rescued and numbers of people helped by its lifeguards.
In Norfolk, the overall number of launches from the six RNLI stations was down from 131 in 2011 to 130 last year, while in Suffolk, the three stations saw “shouts” rise from 59 to 88.
Norfolk crews spent a total of 860 hours at sea and rescued 84 people. Suffolk crews spent 1,179 hours at sea and rescued 109 people.
The RNLI lifeguards, who only operate at north Norfolk and Great Yarmouth in the East Anglia region, went to the aid of 704 beachgoers - including 236 at Great Yarmouth, up from 103 in 2011.
The overall rise came despite poor weather throughout the tourist season. The lifeboat call-outs included:
● The rescue of a kite surfer found face down in the water at Hunstanton
● In November boats from Wells and Cromer helped a man injured when a wind farm support boat collided with a turbine
● In July a Happisburgh crew on a routine exercise saved the life of a man who had become tangled in ropes in the water.
Lowestoft lifeboat saw a five-year high of 34 launches in 2012, with 11 of the 67 people rescued in 2012 saved in one shout, when on July 22 the crew of Spirit of Lowestoft were diverted from a routine exercise to pull a group of divers from their sinking boat.
Andrew Ashton, RNLI regional operations manager for the east, said: ‘Despite the poor weather, with people tending to visit the coast less, our Norfolk lifeboat stations have had another busy year saving lives at sea.
“It’s not just the number of shouts we should acknowledge, but the nature of them: volunteer crew have met difficult conditions, distressing scenes and long hours with unwavering dedication.”
RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto said: “It’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.”
Overall in the RNLI, although the total of 8,321 launches was down on last year by 6.7pc, 2012 was a busy year in terms of crew hours spent at sea on service. Around the UK and Ireland volunteer crews spent nearly 70,000 hours at sea responding to calls for assistance.