Hunstanton lifeboat in urgent appeal for new crew members

Norfolk station only has four people available during the day

Volunteers are urgently needed for a Norfolk lifeboat crew which only has four people available during the day.

Hunstanton is calling for people who live or work in the area to sign-up and help provide a vital service.

RNLI East Divisional Inspector Andrew Ashton said: 'The station is in dire need of operational volunteers as daytime cover is at an all-time low, with only four people available. We need more local volunteers - whether these are mums with a bit more time on their hands during the daytime or people working locally, who could lend a hand.

'Often people believe that you need to be able to sail or have a boating background but this is not the case. These days under one in ten of our volunteers come from a maritime background and full training is provided. Indeed we want to encourage people from all walks of life.'

Helmsman Gavin Grange, who joined the crew more than 20 years ago, said: 'I did not have any previous life boating connections. Being on the crew is very rewarding at times and when you come back from a job you feel like you have done something worthwhile.'

Another helmsman Michael Darby, 41, joined the crew at 17 because of his love of the sea. In February 1988 he was part of a crew called out to help an injured fisherman who had cut his finger off.

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In a strong gale, short, steep seas and total darkness, the crew set out to rescue the man from the trawler.

Hunstanton RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Robin Rafferty said: 'Anyone wishing to join needs to live or work within a reasonable distance of the station at Old Hunstanton. We are a great bunch of individuals and look forward to welcoming new people. Experience is not necessary as full training is provided. The crew meet every Sunday for training and go to sea every fortnight.'

In addition the station is always on the lookout for people who can volunteer their time for fundraising.

An open day will be held on Sunday 15 January. Potential lifeboat crew need to be between 17 and 40 years of age. Anyone interested should contact Robin Rafferty on 07771 662978 or e-mail hunstanton@rnli.org.uk.

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