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Christmas Day call out for Whitby RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The call came after a red distress flare was spotted in the harbour.


Whitby RNLI volunteers launch the inshore lifeboat on Christmas Day 2022
RNLI volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including Christmas Day, yet Whitby RNLI could not recall ever having a shout on Christmas Day in living memory.

That all changed yesterday, (25th December 2022) when not one but two of the lifeboat crew happened to spot a red flare over the harbour. At sea a red flare is usually released as a distress signal.

Whitby's youngest volunteer, Andy Brighton, was walking along Church Street when he noticed the flare and quickly alerted the Coastguard and Coxswain Howard Fields was making the same call across town after seeing the flare from his window.

The Coastguard immediately requested a launch and the inshore lifeboat crew made a search of the harbour area. Due to the strong winds it was decided that to be absolutely certain that there wasn't a vessel in distress at sea, the all weather lifeboat would also launch and the crews undertook a search outside the pier ends.

After a thorough search the volunteers were stood down and returned to station for a de brief.

Coxswain Howard Fields said: 'Thank you to our dedicated volunteers who leave their family celebrations at a moment's notice to save lives at sea, we couldn't do what we do without their commitment.'

Howard who was on annual leave when he spotted the flare said: 'If you spot a distress flare you're back on duty in an instant. We think that it had possibly been let off as a celebration rather than in distress, we would like to remind people to only use red flares in an emergency.'

If you spot anyone in trouble in or near the water dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

For more information contact Lifeboat Press Officer Ceri Oakes on 07813359428 or at [email protected]


Whitby RNLI volunteers de brief after a call out on Christmas Day.

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

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