Lowestoft lifeboatmen lead the way in Suffolk and Norfolk with new safety jackets

THEY are the dedicated teams whose courage and life-saving skills help keep our coastline safe.

But the safety of volunteer lifeboat crews is being improved with the issue of newly-developed lifejackets, and now the RNLI is appealing to people across the UK to help it meet their cost.

Lowestoft Lifeboat Station has received 12 of the new-look lifejackets at a cost of about �4,000, and the roll-out to crews from Hunstanton to Aldeburgh will continue next week.

Locally, the appeal has got off to a good start with a generous �500 donation from Svitzer Marine (UK) in recognition of its close links with the Lowestoft area. It was presented by Mick Dolan, the company's docking superintendent, while its vessel, the Svitzer Surrey, was in Small and Co's dry dock in Lake Lothing.

Paul Carter, lifeboat operations manager in Lowestoft said: 'The RNLI has always looked to advance and improve its safety equipment, and considers this to be of paramount importance.

'The new jackets are designed to specifically meet the RNLI's current search and rescue operational requirements after a two-year design consultation exercise with volunteer crews around the coast.'

'By funding part of this roll-out, people will be helping to keep our crews safe for many years to come with a design that will help them face sometimes difficult and dangerous situations to help others.'

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The RNLI says it is important that everyone who goes to sea always wears a lifejacket, including its crews.

This was illustrated in 1861 when the only survivor of the Whitby Lifeboat disaster was the one crewman wearing a then newly-developed cork lifejacket. Since then, they have helped save many more lives.

The new lifejackets can fit anyone and they are designed so that their comfortable, secure fit will lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness in lifesaving. An integrated harness, designed to pull the lifejacket away from the wearer's neck, allows for greater freedom of movement while rescuing those in trouble.

Other features include a spray hood, a water-activated emergency light and pockets to hold distress flares. The lifejacket automatically inflates in the water and has zipped pockets for casualty care kit, torches, gloves and more.

A crotch-strap prevents the lifejacket riding up over the crew member's head.

To find out more about the lifejackets appeal or offer your support, visit www.rnli.org.uk

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