Lifeboat launches up by almost 50 per cent

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THE HASTINGS lifeboat launched 56 times last year, an increase of 47 per cent from 2011.

A total of 35 people were rescued in 2012, up from 20 in 2011, and the total number of crew hours at sea was 346.

However there is no specific reason for the increase in lifeboat activity according to Hastings RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Clive Mayhew: “In my years of lifeboating, I think one thing that characterises it is that it is absolutely unpredictable, there is no pattern.”

The statistics released by the RNLI on Tuesday (January 22) also revealed that Eastbourne was the country’s third busiest lifeboat station, launching 107 times in 2012 and rescuing 92 people.

It showed eight of the region’s 12 lifeboat stations ranked among the top 15 per cent in terms of the busiest stations - Hastings, Eastbourne, Littlehampton, Brighton, Shoreham, Portsmouth, Calshot and Hayling Island, were all within the top 33 out of a total of 236.

Andrew Ashton, regional operations manager for the RNLI, said: “Not only is the RNLI grateful to our volunteers for all that they do, we’d also like to express our sincere thanks to everyone whose lives are impacted by our crew members when they respond to emergencies.

“Whether it’s a spouse left holding the baby, a partner woken in the night by a crew member’s pager, an employer who allows their staff member to down tools, or a kind colleague who fills in when their workmate shoots off to the lifeboat station, they all deserve our thanks for helping us help others in distress.

“2012 was yet another busy year for our lifeboats and we’re grateful to everyone who contributes and donates to the RNLI.

“As a charity that relies on voluntary contributions every penny helps us do what we do and enables our volunteers to assist those in distress.”

The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team, made up from lifeboat crew volunteers and staff who undergo additional specialist swift-water rescue training, had its busiest year to date due to the record rainfall in 2012, deploying a total of 11 times.

Team members from Hastings took part in a floodwater skills training weekend in Wales in September.