Newhaven Lifeboat is third busiest in Sussex

NEWHAVEN was the third busiest lifeboat station in Sussex and Hampshire clocking up more than 630 hours at sea.

Its volunteer crew launched their lifeboat 55 times and assisted 69 people during 2011.

Of the 15 RNLI stations across the two counties, Eastbourne was the fourth busiest lifeboat station across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, according to the charity’s statistics.

The number of rescue launches across Sussex and Hampshire equated to a total of 6,188 hours spent on service by lifeboats – a figure made all the more impressive considering the RNLI remains a charity that relies on voluntary contributions and donations.

Fundraisers hope the annual statistics, which show the RNLI had its second busiest year ever, will highlight the need for funding replacement lifejackets for volunteer crew members.

The new lifejackets have been produced with Crewsaver and were trialled at a total of 14 stations over a six month period.

They provide more buoyancy, greater freedom of movement and comfort, use a more flexible material, and offer improved fastening and easier adjustment when worn, meaning that one size fits all.

But buying new lifejackets comes at a price - for the 15 stations across Sussex and Hampshire alone will cost a whopping £46,500.

The 2011 lifeboat statistics showed across the UK last year crews assisted a total of 7,976 people, a slight decrease on the 8,313 people assisted in 2010.

Close to 18 per cent (1,641) of lifeboat call-outs last year were attributed to machinery failure, of this 978 (60 per cent) launches were to powered pleasure craft, 383 (23 per cent) to sail pleasure craft and 217 (13 per cent) to fishing vessels.

Divisional inspector for the RNLI East Division Andrew Ashton, said: “These figures show our lifeboat crews were once again involved in a great many rescues on the seas around the South East of England – nearly 1,000 incidents where people were in distress.

“From capsized rowing vessels to stranded kayakers, from drowning pets to broken down motorboats, from walkers cut off by the tide to sea anglers caught out by bad weather – our crews launch to whoever is in trouble, whenever they’re in trouble.

“But they can only do what they do with training, and with the best equipment possible.

“Which is why the RNLI is replacing lifejackets around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland.”