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RNLI volunteers at Portishead hit their busiest year

Lifeboats News Release

This year has proved to be the busiest year since a lifeboat has been in service on the Estuary.

The RNLI volunteers, some of whom have been on call during the whole 20 year history in Portishead, have had their highest record of 35 call outs in one year overtaken this weekend. 

On Sunday (9th October) at 3.01pm just as the crew had got home from their busy training session, the volunteers were paged once more to call out number 43.  The Coastguards at Milford Haven had picked up a very feint ‘mayday Portishead’ call.  A mayday is the highest priority distress call indicating that a person or vessel is in grave and imminent danger with a serious risk to life.  Working with the Coastguard Helicopter crew and Coastguard shore teams from Portishead and Chepstow an extensive search of the Bristol Channel from Clevedon up to and beyond the Severn Crossing (the old bridge) was launched.  After two hours of thorough searching the rescue teams were stood down as nothing was found.

Dave Hodges, crew volunteer for 18 years and lifeboat helm, said ‘It is always disappointing to be stood down from a call of this nature when nothing has been found.  So much time and effort goes in to searching for just the smallest sign of life.  It is very sad to come home empty handed.’

Once the volunteers got back to the station everything was washed down and My Lady Anne, Portishead’s Atlantic 85 class lifeboat was ready for her next call by 6pm.

The Portishead Lifeboat Trust, which had been operating as an independent lifeboat service from 1996 for 19 years, were adopted by the RNLI in April 2015. Its original station was based next to the Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club at Sugar Loaf Beach. After a suitable site was found the RNLI built a brand new state of the art, lifeboat station for the volunteers to operate from.  Since moving to the new station the crew have been called out a total of 61 times, which has resulted in assisting 75 people, 5 dogs and saving 2 lives.

Duty Launch Authority Adam Forrest, who has been a volunteer for 18 years, recalls ‘I keep a list of historical data which shows that our average number of calls has been just over 20 a year for the last 20 years.  Our busiest year prior to 2016 was 2002 when we had 35 calls.’

The volunteers would like to urge the community to always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they see something they are worried about in or by the water.  All calls are taken seriously.

#RespectTheWater #SavingLivesAtSea

RNLI notes to editors

Photos are ©RNLI Portishead

My Lady Anne launching on service on Sunday afternoon.

Volunteer shore crew back at the Station waiting for the lifeboat to return.

Portishead Lifeboat Station

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Helen Lazenby, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07800 595995 or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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