Vandals burn lifeguard equipment

Vandals made a bonfire out of thousands of pounds of vital lifeguard equipment on a north Norfolk beach.

Vandals made a bonfire out of thousands of pounds of vital lifeguard equipment on a north Norfolk beach.

This morning the new RNLI lifeguard hut at Sea Palling was discovered with its roof torn off and rescue boards, oxygen cylinders and the £2,000 defibrillator, lying nearby in a charred pile.

The hut had only been open for a few weeks and all the equipment had been paid for by donations and fundraising.

Darren Lewis, RNLI lifeguard manager, said: “It's incredibly frustrating and annoying. A stupid piece of mindless violence.

“The rescue boards are 8ft long and the defibrillator is heavy and bulky. They must have really struggled and it must have taken them a really long time. But they were determined to destroy it.

“Just think about how hard people have worked to raise all the money for this equipment and they've just annihilated it all.

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“The most horrendous thing is the loss of the defibrillator. It really is an essential piece of lifesaving equipment.

“And they're not easy to get hold of. So for now we won't have one. We just have to hope it won't be needed.

“Whoever it was had plugged the paddles in and tried to use it. Luckily it's an intelligent machine and won't shock a live person.

“That's the kind of idiotic people we're dealing with.”

The hut was broken into and the bonfire started at about 10.30pm on Thursdaynight, and a dog walker who spotted the remains of the equipment and the ripped roof early this morning called the authorities.

A tarpaulin has been placed over the roof until workmen can repair the damage, and the ruined equipment cleared away.

Lifeguards patrolling the beach have been issued with new equipment from the store in Cromer, but a replacement defibrillator will be hard to find and take time to arrive.

Mr Lewis said: “It is necessary we have a defibrillator so I'll have to see where the nearest spare one is.

“The machine is really durable and rarely breaks but they'd left it out there all night in the rain.

“It was like another cruel blow, being able to see it but know it didn't work. It wasn't as if they'd even taken it for the monetary value.”

t Lifeguards are on the beach every day from 10am to 6pm from May 19 until September 23.

t Anyone with information should contact the police on 0845 456 4567.

t Anyone wishing to donate money or contribute towards the RNLI should contact 0800 543210 or www.rnli.org.uk.