Warning issued by coastguard following busy 2016 on the east coast

Lowestoft coastguard. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Lowestoft coastguard. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

They serve and protect coastal communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

But 2016 has proved to be a busier year than most for coastguard rescue teams along the east coast.

Compared to 2015, when they received 287 call-outs, coastguard teams on the coast between Hunstanton to Felixstowe attended 464 incidents in 2016.

The trained volunteer coastguard teams of Lowestoft and Southwold experienced a particularly busy 2016, as they completed 106 call-outs – nearly double the total of 56 call-outs during the previous year and the highest annual total in the past six years.

Andy Sutherland, station officer for Lowestoft and Southwold coastguard rescue teams, said: 'It has been one of the busiest years since 2010. I have been a coastguard at Lowestoft since 2002 and have seen an increase in calls in the last six years. When I joined in 2002 it was 100-plus call-outs a year but then dropped away.'

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Lowestoft and Southwold coastguard teams provide assistance to those in distress along the coast between Dunwich and Gorleston – spanning more than 25 miles.

And the team has also attended 15 call-outs inland on parts of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

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Dave Burwood, Lowestoft Coastguard rescue officer, said: 'Call-outs have been very varied, from persons in difficulties in the water, assistance with damaged vessels, medical evacuations from vessels and beaches, a speedboat accident, a car over the cliff in Corton and searches assisting Suffolk Police looking for missing persons.'

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: 'It's easy to get caught up in enjoying time on the beach or exploring coastal areas but make sure you keep a careful eye on the sea which can easily catch out even people with extensive knowledge of tides.

'As always, whether it's you or someone you see in trouble, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.'

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