In 2016 Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats in the north of England launched more than 1,000 times. As the Easter holidays approach, and in a bid to reduce this year’s rescue statistics, the charity is urging people to take extra care at the coast.
RNLI statistics issued today (Wednesday 29 March) show that volunteer lifeboat crews at the 33 lifeboat stations* in the north of England launched 1,032 times last year, an increase of more than 8% on 2015 when there were 954 launches. The charity’s lifeguards on 38 beaches in the north* also saw an increase in the incidents that they attended with 2,398 incidents in 2016 compared to 2,065 in 2015.
Nationally, the number of lifeboat launches around the coast has increased from 2015 to 8,851 in 2016 (a five year high) and lifeguard incidents are also at an increase from last year to 17,414. The charity’s lifesavers saved 558 people’s lives last year and helped nearly 30,000 people.
Following the release of the statistics, the charity wants to equip more people with the knowledge and skills to avoid trouble in the first place and to understand what to do should they find themselves or others in danger in the water.
Darren Lewis, RNLI Lifesaving Manager said: ‘In 2016, our charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards in the north of England saved 64 lives. The figures from last year show immense dedication by our volunteer lifesavers but the increase in lifeboat launches and incidents dealt with by our lifeguards highlights the need for people to be extra vigilant in or around water.
‘Our charity promotes safety messages all year round via interactive campaigns such as Respect the Water and Hit the Surf. Through these initiatives we have equipped thousands of people with invaluable lifesaving tips. With Easter just around the corner, it’s the ideal time to remind people that to have an enjoyable time at the coast, they need to treat it with respect. A little preparation beforehand and knowing what to do if you do get into trouble can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.’
Top safety tips for people visiting the coast include:
· Familiarising yourself with tide times before setting off
· Always letting someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be return
· The correct way to raise the alarm if you do get into difficulty – by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard
· To always swim at a lifeguarded beach
The charity’s lifeguards will be returning to many beaches during April with safety patrols operating through to September. For a list of season dates please visit: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches
Darren added: ‘We’d always urge people to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards are highly trained and are able to deal with anything from locating missing children through to lifesaving rescues. They’re always happy to offer friendly safety advice and this provides beach users with extra peace of mind.’
The 2016 statistics also show in the north of England an increase of lifeboat launches to people who got into difficulty ashore, with incidents rising almost 16% from 240 in 2015 to 278 in 2016. This highlights how people need to take extra care on coastal walks or whilst walking their dogs near the sea.
The busiest lifeboat crew in the north of England in 2016 was Sunderland which launched its inshore lifeboats 100 times, followed by:
Blackpool – 84 launches
Tynemouth – 75 launches
Humber – 67
Fleetwood – 55
On the evening of Tuesday 14 March 2017 the volunteer crew from Blyth RNLI were out on a routine training exercise in the Blyth Bay area.
One of the volunteer crew noticed what appeared to be a fire on the beach and the crew alerted UK Coastguard to that fact and proceeded to the shoreline to take a closer look.
The D Class inshore lifeboat was put onto the beach which enabled one of the crew members to investigate further and ensure that there was no-one requiring any assistance.
Whilst this was happening,Helmsman Scott Delf radioed the co-ordinates of the fire to UK Coastguard who in turn informed the Fire Service.
At the scene of the fire, contact was made with Northumbria Police and the Fire Service and having confirmed that no further assistance could be provided by the RNLI the crew member returned to the lifeboat.
The volunteer crew then proceeded to leave the beach and continue with the planned training for that evening.
Blyth RNLI crew respond to request for assistance from small fishing vessel
On Friday 17 February 2017 Blyth RNLI volunteer crew members responded to their pagers at 12.07pm to come to the assistance of a small fishing vessel that was suffering from mechanical issues.
The B Class Atlantic 75 was launched and as instructed by UK Coastguard proceeded due east from Blyth harbour to meet the casualty vessel Dotty Ree.
Within five minutes of launching the volunteer crew were on scene and having established that the Dotty Ree was unable to continue to their original destination of Amble that a tow would be undertaken to the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club.
After establishing the tow both boats arrived 60 minutes later at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club where the Dotty Ree was safely secured alongside the pontoon and were met by the local UK Coastguard unit from Blyth.
The charity’s lifeboat then returned to station at 1.30pm and made ready for the next service.
Blyth RNLI volunteer crew rescue a stricken fisherman who was cut off due to the sea conditions.
Blyth RNLI volunteer crew were paged at 2.20pm by UK Coastguard to assist the local UK Coastguard team in reaching a fisherman that was at the end of the East Pier at Blyth.
Both the station’s inshore lifeboats were launched and reached the fisherman shortly afterwards who was found to be sheltering by the lighthouse.
Once on scene it was deemed that due to the conditions caused by the tidal surge and the rising tide that the assistance of the UK Coastguard helicopter would be required.
The volunteer crew kept watch on the fisherman and were joined alongside by the Blyth pilot boat.
Due to the worsening conditions and with the aid of the Blyth pilot boat a crew member from one of the inshore lifeboats was transferred onto the pier and they made their way along the pier to make contact with the casualty.
Upon reaching the casualty and securing a lifejacket on them it was decided due to the changing weather conditions and high tide approaching that there was the possibility that the crew member and fisherman would be swamped and at risk of being washed off the pier.
The crew member whilst watching the oncoming waves escorted the casualty back along the pier to a point where they could board the pilot boat and return to safety.
Both lifeboats then escorted the pilot boat back to the lifeboat station and the fisherman was handed over to awaiting local UK Coastguard unit.
Graham Short, Helmsman of the B Class Inshore Lifeboat Vic & Billie Whiffen said : ‘The conditions were very challenging this afternoon and especially as we were aware of the high tide due. We’d urge people to think about the weather conditions and the warnings that were given out before making a decision as to whether they are going to potentially put themselves at risk. We are glad that this ended with a safe conclusion.’
Search after a report of a missing fisherman at Blyth Harbour
Volunteer crew members from Blyth RNLI responded to reports of a fisherman in the water off of a pier at the entrance to Blyth harbour.
The crew were first alerted by their pagers at 23.34pm on Friday 23rd December and both the B and D class inshore lifeboats were launched and were at the scene shortly afterwards.
Both the lifeboats were then involved in a multi agency search co-ordinated by UK Coastguard.
The all-weather lifeboat from Amble RNLI was also requested to assist with the search in very challenging weather conditions with strong winds and rough seas hampering the crews with the search.
After three hours the lifeboats from Blyth RNLI had to return to their station in order that they could refuel but were quickly back out resuming their search.
At 3.48am on Christmas Eve,UK Coastguard called off the search and the lifeboats were stood down and returned to station.
The lifeboats were made ready for service at 4.15am.
Helmsman Scott Delf said: “We responded very quickly to reports of a person in the water close to the Lighthouse at the entrance to Blyth Harbour. The search we undertook was difficult due to the weather and the sea conditions.”
Two Blyth volunteers were recognised at an RNLI awards ceremony, held at the Ramside Hotel in Durham recently.November 15th, 2016 Posted in Fundraising & Events |
Gordon Elwen was presented with the Gold Badge that the RNLI Trustee Board had awarded him in recognition of his long and devoted service with the Blyth Lifeboat Management Group.Mr Elwen has been connected with Blyth Lifeboat Station for over 40 years and has now served more than 25 years in the honorary position of Lifeboat Treasurer at the Blyth Station.While serving on the station committee before being appointed Honorary Lifeboat Treasurer Mr Elwen assisted in various administrative matters. On three or four Lifeboat Open Days he skippered a boat while giving Boat Trips on the river. On other Open Days, with the assistance of family members, he would run various stalls to help raise funds for the Station.Mr Elwen for several years also helped with the promotion and publicity of the RNLI by acting as Press Officer at Blyth.On being asked why he has been interested with the RNLI for so many years he replied, ”The sea is inviting, interesting and can be exciting when visiting the seaside or being out and about on boats and yachts. However care is needed, one should know the tides and how the weather conditions affects the sea. Unfortunately there can be times when something can go wrong and help is needed, but with help of lifeboat fundraisers and supporters, the well trained RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat crews are ready around the clock to launch the lifeboats to help those in trouble and save lives at sea. I was not able to train as a crew member but it has been rewarding to have been able to support the Blyth RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Crew”.
Lol Dunn has also had his Long Service to the RNLI recognised and unfortunately was unable to attend the awards ceremony on the day in person. He has said that, “I’ve always enjoyed supporting the RNLI Lifeboat Station over the years in Blyth but have never been part of the crew due to suffering from sea sickness. I’ve helped in other ways by fundraising and people may remember from visits to the Lifeboat Open Days on watching my ferrets race”.
On Sunday 6th November at 3.51pm volunteers from Blyth RNLI responded to their pagers as a result of a “Mayday” message received by UK Coastguard.
The pilot boat Blyth Spirit from the Port of Blyth had sent out the emergency distress call as it was taking on water due to a mechanical failure.
The volunteer crew launched the B Class Lifeboat and upon reaching the Blyth Spirit escorted the vessel back to the safety of South Harbour at the Port of Blyth where it was tied up.
There were no casualties.
Volunteer Crew member Lee Pegg said: “The conditions at sea were rough this afternoon and we are glad that we only had to escort the vessel back to the Port and that no further action was required in what could have been challenging conditions.”
Volunteer Crew from Blyth RNLI responded to request from HM Coastguard to attend an incident where Northumbria Police were also in attendance.
Both the Atlantic 75 B Class and D Class lifeboats were launched at 6.10pm and tasked to head to Hartley Bay to reports of a person in distress.
As the Lifeboats proceeded up the River Blyth and reached the piers the crews were stood down as the person was now in Police custody.
Both lifeboats returned to Station and were made ready for service.