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Dover and Littlestone lifeboats assist multi-agency search for missing person

Lifeboats News Release

At 3:35pm on Sunday 11 December volunteer crew members from Dover RNLI abandoned their Sunday roasts to join forces with the UK Coastguard in order to find a female who had made a 999 call reporting she had fallen on rocks and was injured.

By approximately 4pm, Dover RNLI’s Severn class all-weather lifeboat the City of London II, under the command of Duty Coxswain Robert Bendhiaf, was on scene searching from Folkestone Harbour towards Samphire Hoe alongside the Coastguard helicopter and teams along the shore.

With no sightings of the woman by 6pm, the UK Coastguard requested Littlestone-on-Sea RNLI’s Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat to join the search amid concerns for the woman’s welfare. RNLI volunteers searched for seven hours with no sign of the woman.

At its peak, an estimated 100 volunteers and emergency service personnel were involved with Sunday evening’s search and rescue operation, which drew to a close at approximately 10:30pm.

Thankfully, the next day, there was a positive outcome when the woman was found safe and well.

Robert Bendhiaf, Duty Coxswain for Dover RNLI said ‘Sunday evening was one of the longest and largest multi-agency search and rescue operations in our area in recent years; it was a great opportunity to work together and put all our training to use.

‘At one point we had a total of three lifeboats searching which included our inshore inflatable “Y-boat” to get in close to the rocks, Littlestone RNLI’s Atlantic 75 searching inshore and within Folkestone Harbour and our Severn class lifeboat searching further offshore and the outer harbour. White parachute flares were used to illuminate the area to aid searching when the helicopter left the scene to re-fuel.’

Ed Baker, Dover RNLI Press Officer said ‘Around 190 people die each year along our coasts, roughly half of those are due to accidental slips, trips and falls. We'd like to take this opportunity to remind the public to respect the water, during the winter months more than ever with falling light and colder temperatures it makes search and rescue efforts and survival much tougher. Visit for safety advice.’

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RNLI media contacts

  • Ed Baker, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer 07716799673,
  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/South East/East) 0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 /

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland