No fun in the sun for Eastbourne RNLI volunteers

Whilst the public were enjoying the summer sunshine Eastbourne lifeboat volunteers were kept busy on Sunday afternoon with three call-outs involving visitors being cut off by the tide and overdue kayakers. 

The unseasonal weather brought many extra visitors to town to enjoy the sunshine and beach. Unfortunately some were not aware of the potential dangers of walking along remote beaches without consulting tide tables. 

The first call to Eastbourne lifeboats for assistance was received shortly after 1.00pm (Sun 8 May) when a frantic phone call was taken at Dover Coastguard from a group of two adults and a child cut off by the tide at Whitbread Hollow, a rocky shoreline west of the popular Holywell beaches. The volunteer crew of Eastbourne’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) were scrambled and on scene soon after. 

They found the casualties, cold wet and in a state of anxiety, one of whom had sustained cuts and scratches after scrambling over rocks to raise the alarm. They were taken back to Holywell to await the arrival of an ambulance. No sooner had the volunteer crew returned to station and made the ILB ready for service then the pagers again called them into action. 

Another person had been reported as being cut off by the tide, this time under the cliffs in the Birling Gap area. Again the crew made their way at full speed to the location. They found the frightened casualty and took her aboard the ILB and returned her to the steps at Birling Gap where her adventure had started. 

No sooner had they seen the casualty to safety another message was received from the rescue centre at Dover Coastguard. Two kayakers were long overdue prompting concern from friends and family. The ILB crew conducted a thorough search as they returned to station, stopping and interviewing kayakers along the way. 

The alert was finally cancelled when the kayakers returned to shore. The ILB was finally stood down at 5pm after a busy afternoon 

by Bob Jeffery 

Key facts about the RNLI 

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. 

Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk. The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. 

As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. 

Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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