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Christmas comes but once a year but for the thousands of volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews in the south west it’s business as usual over the festive season as they remain committed to leaving the family festivities behind should they be needed to help those in danger at sea.
In 2010 nine of the 35 lifeboat stations in theregion responded to the pagers between Christmas and New Year.
Since 2004, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west have been called upon 120 times and rescued 87 people over Christmas and New Year. In 2010 alone they gave up priceless family time to launch 14 times, covering over 37 nautical miles and spending a total of 18 hours at sea to rescue 11 people in trouble. Weymouth was one of the busiest stations in the country, launching a total of four times over the nine day period, with Dart and St Ives both launching twice.
RNLI lifeguards will also be patrolling Boscombe beach in Dorset providing safety cover for both water users and winter beach goers between 10am and 4pm everyday including Christmas day.
Adrian Carey, RNLI Divisional Inspector for the south west says:
"The spell of winter gales which hit the south west last week really put intoperspective the sacrifices our charity’s volunteers are prepared to make to ensure people are safe at sea, in often difficult and dangerous situations.It becomes ever more poignant as we enjoy the run up to the festive period when they remain committed to sacrificing this special time with their loved ones if the pagers go off.
Of course,it is not just the lifeboat crews we should remember, but also their families and friends, who are always prepared for Christmas to be disturbed by the call of the pager, and our dedicated fundraisers and supporters, whose work is vitalin ensuring we, as a charity, have the funds we need to keep saving lives at sea.
The same volunteers are also looking ahead to the charity’s biggest fundraising event, SOS Day on Friday 27 January. This year, all funds raised will go towards equipping our volunteer crews with new state of the art lifejackets,which will help keep them safe at sea.
Visit www.rnli.org.uk/sos to find out how you can support their efforts, do your own event or to make a donation."
If you are planning on visiting the coast over the festive period, please visit www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety or www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety for the RNLI’s free all year round safety advice for sea users and beach visitors.