Southend RNLI’s busiest May in seven years, despite lockdown

Lifeboats News Release

Southend on Sea volunteer lifeboat crews were paged 23 times in the month of May 2020 to respond to emergency calls.

Southend on Sea RNLI D class inshore lifeboat and volunteer crew

RNLI/Nick Leach

Southend on Sea RNLI D class inshore lifeboat and volunteer crew

This is the highest number of launches for Southend Lifeboat in May for seven years, even with government advice to stay home in the first half of the month and guidance to maintain social distancing as restrictions eased.

During May the voluntary lifeboat crew were tasked to a variety of emergency situations, including beach goers being cut off by the tide, broken down vessels and people getting into difficulty whilst engaged in water-based activities. This resulted in charity having to call on its volunteer crew to respond to its pagers at all times of the day and night.

The trend of frequent calls has continued this week with the Atlantic 85 lifeboat being launched from the pierhead boathouse at 9.11pm on Monday, to a yacht going aground close to Smallgains marina. Once on scene the lifeboat towed the vessel into deeper water and located a safe mooring.

Tuesday evening resulted in another two calls, in which the inshore lifeboat was launched at 7:05pm and 9:48pm. The first launch was to four people, including one infant, cut off by the tide off Chalkwell beach. The second, to two people unable to make it safely ashore from their boat moored west of Barge pier, who were taken onboard the lifeboat and returned safely to shore.

Graham Slack, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, said – “I urge anyone visiting the shore around Southend to take extra care at the moment. In these uncertain times, it’s important for anyone considering being around the water to check carefully coastal information, tide times and conditions to ensure their own safety.”

Councilor Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, said: "With the warm weather upon us, we have seen a huge influx in visitors to our beaches. Whilst most show care and caution when taking a dip in the water, there have been many incidents for the RNLI to respond to. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time if and when they decide to visit Southend, so I am urging visitors to please be careful.

"Our RNLI volunteers do fantastic work, and the Beach Welfare Officers are down at the seafront advising and assisting residents, as well as working closely with the RNLI and the council's Pier and Foreshore team to ensure the appropriate provisions are in place to keep everyone safe and well."

The RNLI asks everyone to consider carefully the need to go to the beach, the coast or onto the water at this time. Even in these difficult and unprecedented times our RNLI volunteers are still on duty 24/7 and ready to deploy at the sound of the pager.

RNLI media contacts

Jack Lidster Woolf, Lifeboat Press Officer, jack_lidster-woolf@rnli.org.uk, 07746 346119

Frank Holand, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, frank_holland@rnli.org.uk, 07760 668658

Julie Rainey, Regional Media Engagement Manager, London and South East, julie_rainey@rnli.org.uk, 07827 358256

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789


Southend on Sea RNLI's D class in action

RNLI/Nick Leach

Southend on Sea RNLI's D class in action
Southend on Sea RNLI's D-682 inshore lifeboat

RNLI/Nick Leach

Southend on Sea RNLI's D-682 inshore lifeboat

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.