Sandcastles and abseils at Southwold Lifeboat Day

Dramatic lifeboat demonstrations, sandcastle competitions and a charity abseil will draw crowds to Southwold seafront this weekend.

Southwold's relief lifeboat Duckhams 2001 will join with the Tyne Class Spirit of Lowestoft and local fishing boats to demonstrate how the RNLI saves lives at sea during the charity's annual Lifeboat Day on Saturday. There will be a display off Southwold at 11am, followed by a display off Dunwich from 3pm.

Some of the Southwold crew will pose as mariners who have abandoned a fishing boat and boarded a six-man life raft. They will set off smoke flares to attract attention. To rescued the mariners, RNLI crews will use a technique called slow speed transfer and then take them to safety at Southwold Harbour.

Other attractions during the day will include a balloon race on the promenade below the Sailors' Reading Room from 10am to 2pm, a sandcastle competition on the beach from 11am to 3pm. Entry fees will apply.

On Sunday, just under 90 people including actor Bernard Hill will abseil down Southwold Lighthouse to help raise money for the RNLI.

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A lifeboat was first stationed in Southwold in 1841. Today, there is 18-strong volunteer crew with members from all walks of life - including a businessman, a student, a boat builder, an airline pilot, a taxi driver and a teacher.

David Tytler, chair of the Southwold and Dunwich Fundraiser group, said: 'The RNLI is independent from the government and relies on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income.

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'The crew's kit for the Southwold Station costs around �1,000 per person. In 2010, the national service cost �145.5 million.

'Many thousands of volunteers, who make up 97pc of its people, give their time to ensure that a high proportion of the RNLI's money is spent on first-class boats and equipment. The RNLI sets great store by its voluntary spirit.'

• For more information on Lifeboat Day call Carol Shore on 01502 726176.

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