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Seven calls for help in four days for Harwich RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The busiest July for more than six years continued into August for the volunteers of Harwich RNLI, with seven taskings in four days, starting with a fisherman overboard and ending with a medical extraction from a sailing barge.

RNLI/Jon Bliss

The volunteer crews of the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat (ILB) Tierney, Harvey and Sonny Reid and the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) Albert Brown were conducting routine exercises on Sunday morning (1 August) when they were alerted to a fisherman falling overboard near the South Threshold Buoy, some seven miles off Felixstowe beach, close to Sealand. They immediately proceeded to the reported position.

While the lifeboats were en route, and having been in the water for five minutes, the casualty was pulled from the water by a fellow crew member aboard the fishing vessel. The casualty was then transferred to the Harwich Haven Authority’s pilot launch St Christopher, which having been nearby also responded to the request for help. The St Christopher made best speed for Harwich, where the casualty was handed to the care of the Coastguard, and paramedics from East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).

The lifeboat crew checked on the welfare of the remaining crew member aboard the fishing vessel before returning to station.

Tuesday 3 August saw the RNLI volunteers called out three times in seven hours, starting at 5.28pm with a request to assist paramedics and the Shingle Street Coastguard rescue team with a 37-year-old woman who had broken her ankle on Bawdsey Beach. Due to the location the inshore lifeboat crew were requested to transfer the casualty and paramedics to Bawdsey Quay, where the EEAST ambulance was waiting. The ILB was back on station at 7.10pm.

The pagers went again at 9.47pm to launch the ILB, with a request to assist the Felixstowe and Holbrook Coastguard rescue teams in a search for a missing person. When the person was found safe and well by other agencies the lifeboat crew were stood down and returned to station at 11.15pm.

The volunteers had all just settled back down in their beds when the pagers sounded for the third time of the night at 12.23pm, this time to reports of a young woman having a seizure aboard a sailing barge.

Arriving on station it was discovered the sailing barge was alongside Ha’penny Pier (which is adjacent to the lifeboat station), with paramedics in attendance. Using a specialist stretcher carried aboard the lifeboats - which is designed to extract casualties safely from tight areas below deck - the lifeboat crew were able to assist the paramedics in getting the casualty safely transferred from the barge’s sleeping quarters below deck to the waiting ambulance, which took the young woman to Colchester Hospital for further assessment.

The volunteer’s finally got to settle down for the night at 1.30am on the Wednesday morning.

Harwich RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Peter Bull, said: ‘Last month was the busiest July since 2015, with 23 call outs for the Harwich volunteers, who have responded to 68 requests for help so far this year, and fear it will only get busier during the summer holidays.

‘There are some simple steps we can all do to ensure we have a summer to remember for the right reasons:- check tide times and weather forecast, take note of the warning signs, carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch, and don’t go alone. If taking to the water with any type of craft, make sure it is suitable, serviced and you wear an appropriate lifejacket. If you do get into trouble in the water Float to Live, giving time for help to arrive.’

Swimsafe sessions are being held at Dovercourt Bay beach from Saturday 7 August until Tuesday 10 August. There will also be sessions held at Clacton’s Martello Bay beach on the week of the 16th. For full details and to book, go to:

For more tips and advice on keeping safe this summer, visit

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI Harwich volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or [email protected],

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

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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.