More than 260 people were rescued by RNLI lifeboats and over 950 helped by lifeguards in the North East last year, according to figures released today.
Crews in the region were met with a scorching summer which attracted people to the sea and was one of the busiest in the charity’s history. The stormy autumn and chilly spring in 2013 were relatively quiet, however.
During this time there were 281 launches from lifeboat stations and 265 people were rescued.
The busiest station was Sunderland, which launched its two inshore lifeboats 89 times and rescued 84 people. Its missions included an incident in May when a five-metre pleasure boat was saved from sinking.
The Tynemouth crew had 64 launches and rescued 76. Their latest operation took place on Sunday afternoon when a fire broke out onboard a fishing vessel.
The 300-tonne Fraserburgh-based Replenish with six crew had been fishing for prawns 30 miles off the Northumberland coast when the blaze started in the galley.
A lifeboat from Amble was called to assist the fishermen, who managed to put the fire out and seal off the galley. Due to fears the blaze might not have been completely extinguished, the lifeboat escorted Replenish part of the way to her temporary base at North Shields and was met six miles off Seaton Sluice by Tynemouth RNLI’s all weather lifeboat.
Firefighters arrived at the fishing vessel as it was docked on North Shields Fish Quay. The crews, wearing breathing apparatus, entered the Replenish and confirmed the blaze was out. They then vented the boat of smoke using powerful fans.
Elsewhere, Cullercoats RNLI launched 30 times, rescuing 24 people, Seahouses were called out on 25 occasions and saved 17, Amble set out 20 times and rescued 24, Blyth had 18 launches and 13 rescues, Newbiggin were called 17 times and saved 15, Berwick-upon-Tweed had 16 launches and 10 rescues, and Craster were called out two times to rescue two people.
Andrew Ashton, RNLI North East divisional operations manager, said: “Our volunteers save lives day in, day out, whatever the weather. When their pagers go off, they have no idea what might face them out at sea – they could be going to the aid of a drowning child, a person cut off by the tide or a boat owner whose vessel has broken down.
“The range of incidents our crews respond to is reflected in the amount of training they carry out – last year, for every hour they spent at sea on a rescue, they spent another three and a half on a training exercise. This is a mark of their true commitment to their lifesaving role.”
The charity’s lifeguards were also kept busy, treating everything from minor cuts and bruises to performing first-aid and lifesaving rescues.
They responded to 755 incidents, up from 357 in 2012, and helped 956 people, compared to 411 the previous year.
The busiest beach was Tynemouth Longsands where 158 incidents took place and 203 people were aided.
Baby girl christened on lifeboat
Two Tynemouth RNLI volunteers carried on a long tradition of having their baby christened on board a lifeboat.
On Sunday, the ceremony was held on the Severn class all-weather lifeboat, Spirit of Northumberland, when crew members Chris Reay and Emma Coleman’s daughter Sarah Judith Reay was christened.
Rev Peter Dodd led the service in front of the couple’s family, friends and fellow volunteers, braving strong winds and rain.
The christening font normally found in a church ceremony was replaced by the upturned brass ship’s bell from the lifeboat.
Chris, 42, met Emma, 29, a music teacher, when they both joined the RNLI as volunteers three years ago.
Chris, who runs a catering business, said: “The weather was a bit miserable but we didn’t let it stop us carrying on the fine tradition of having Sarah’s christening on board the lifeboat.
“Maybe she’ll become a volunteer with the RNLI herself.”
The station has been christening children of crew members on their rescue boats for more than 200 years.
The tradition of christening ‘lifeboat children’ aboard RNLI lifeboats goes back over 200 years and is said to bring luck to the child.