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Early start for Eastbourne RNLI recalls dramatic 2002 rescue

Lifeboats News Release

On the 20th anniversary of one of Eastbourne RNLI's most dramatic rescues in recent times, the volunteer crew were given an early alarm call when the pagers went off at 4.27am on 20 October 2022.

Stock photo of the Eastbourne Lifeboat 'Diamond Jubilee' at sea.

Pete Abel

Stock photo of the Eastbourne Lifeboat 'Diamond Jubilee' at sea.

The crew were requested to help partner agencies with a search of the north harbour at Sovereign Harbour after reports of a person in the water calling for help.

Whilst the Tamar class All-Weather Lifeboat Diamond Jubilee was being prepared to launch, alongside the inflatable Y boat housed inside the lifeboat, two crew launched alongside a member of harbour staff in the harbour’s work boat and a further three had taken torches and were walking around the harbour to try and locate the casualty.

The casualty was located by other agencies and extracted from the water and the volunteer lifeboat crew were stood down by Solent Coastguard before the lifeboat had left its mooring.

‘Thankfully the casualty was located and recovered quickly from inside the harbour, The RNLI are on call 24/7 to assist anyone needing help at sea, or in this case the harbour’ Coxswain Mark Sawyer said afterwards.

On 20 October 2002, exactly 20 years ago, the crew of Eastbourne lifeboat took part in one of the most dramatic rescues in recent memory during the saving of two people onboard the yacht Paperchase.

On that night the disabled yacht was in very shallow water at the entrance to Sovereign Harbour. It was dark, the seas were very rough and the south-easterly winds were Force 8. Waves were breaking over the lifeboat as the two people were rescued and the lifeboat mechanic Dan Guy was washed into the sea, but held onto the man he was assisting.

Following the incident a Silver Medal for Gallantry was awarded to Eastbourne coxswain Mark Sawyer and the Bronze Medal to Dan Guy in recognition of their courage and skill.

The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society awarded Coxswain Sawyer the Emile Robins Award for 2002/3 for this service. This award goes to the Master/Coxswain of a British vessel who incurs the greatest peril in rescuing survivors at sea.

Media Contacts:

Daniel Baldock, Eastbourne RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer (07895) 369688 [email protected]

Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer London London and South East (07785) 296252 [email protected]

RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre

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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