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North Berwick RNLI to feature in Saving Lives at Sea on BBC Two

Lifeboats News Release

A rescue during Storm Dennis in February 2020, will feature in the next episode of Saving Lives at Sea (8pm, BBC Two, Thursday 23 November), alongside interviews with volunteers from North Berwick RNLI.

North Berwick RNLI crew members at the front of the lifeboat, viewed from the back with a crew member pointing towards the casualty

RNLI/Matthew Gibbons

North Berwick RNLI crew members spot a casualty through the spray caused by Storm Dennis

The call out which earned the voluntary crew a Commendation from the RNLI's Director of Lifesaving Operations, took place on 16 February 2020 near Gullane Bay, about 5 nautical miles to the west of North Berwick.

Storm Dennis brought strong gale force winds sweeping across the country between 15 and 17 February 2020. Max gusts in excess of 50 knots (58mph) were recorded in Edinburgh bringing very rough sea conditions to the waters off North Berwick.

The RNLI's volunteers in North Berwick were called out to a windsurfer who had got into difficulties after their equipment had failed. They were able to call for help using a Personal Locator Beacon and mobile phone.

Crew members Stevie Wilson, Niall Grant and Hamish Barbour launched into the heavy seas, battling large waves and a headwind to reach the casualty. Arriving on scene after 25 minutes they started a search of the last known position, trying to spot the casualty through the waves and spray.

Helm of North Berwick lifeboat, Niall Grant, who features in the episode said: 'Conditions on scene were pretty poor; The spray was making it very difficult to see and it was hard to hear each other over the howl of the wind. We had to rotate through positions aboard the lifeboat to reduce crew fatigue.'

'Shortly after arriving on scene, Hamish spotted the casualty in the water, close to the rocks. Stevie, who was on the helm, had to time our approach just right, between waves to get close enough to haul the casualty on board.'

'The casualty was very apologetic and obviously hugely grateful for being rescued. He had the correct safety equipment which ultimately saved his life, but the conditions had broken his windsurf, leaving him stranded in the water and being driven towards the rocks'

The casualty was returned to North Berwick safe and well.

Saving Lives at Sea is a TV programme produced by Blast! Films for the BBC. The popular show, now in its eighth series tells the story of the RNLI’s volunteer army of ordinary men and women ready to drop everything and put their lives on the line to save those of others.

North Berwick RNLI will feature in episode nine of series eight on Thursday, 23 November, 8pm, BBC Two and available on the BBC iPlayer.

In 2022, RNLI lifeboat crew around the UK and Ireland launched 9,312 times, saving 389 lives, while the charity’s lifeguards aided 23,204 people and saved 117 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

If you get inspired to volunteer with the RNLI by the series, there are a variety of roles from lifeboat crew to fundraiser, lifeguard to shop volunteer. Fund out more at

Notes to Editors

  • It cost £1,400 a year to train each crew member in the lifesaving skills they need to answer the call for help
  • 97% of the RNLI’s frontline lifesavers are volunteers including over 5,700 lifeboat crew members.
  • In 2022 it cost the RNLI £188M to run its charitable lifesaving service, 6 in 10 of the lifeboat launches were funded be generous supporters leaving the RNLI a gift in their will.
  • Library footage and images of North Berwick RNLI are available on request, please use the contacts below.

RNLI media contacts

Matthew Gibbons, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, North Berwick, [email protected]

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

24 hour RNLI Central Press Office, 01202 336789 or email [email protected]

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.

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.