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Swanage RNLI lifeboats in four-hour shout to help stranded climbers

Lifeboats News Release

Both Swanage RNLI lifeboats were diverted from their weekly exercise last night (Wednesday 7 December) to help a group of stranded climbers. Working with Swanage Coastguard and St Albans Coastguard, the five casualties were transported to safety in a four hour operation.

RNLI/Swanage

Swanage RNLI lifeboats on scene assisting five climbers

The lifeboats were tasked at around 7.30pm after the Coastguard received a 999 call from a group of climbers stranded near Dancing Ledge. Both Shannon and D class lifeboats made best speed to the reported location of the climbers. With the tide ebbing and a sea swell pushing in, conditions were rough.

After arriving at Dancing Ledge, the crews carried out a shoreline search and the all-weather lifeboat crew spotted the casualties at Guillemot Ledge.

The inshore lifeboat moved in closer and decided it was safe to put a crew member ashore to assess the casualties. The helm of the inshore lifeboat then carefully approached the cliff and during a break in the swell, put ashore the first crew member.

The crew member made his way across the rocky shoreline to the ledge where the casualties were waiting. All casualties were reported fine and well with no injuries.

The inshore lifeboat crew then attempted to recover the casualties, but with a rough sea and submerged rocks, it meant it was not possible to reach a safe location for all the casualties to be easily transferred.

The decision was then taken for the Swanage Coastguard and St Albans Coastguard to get the casualties to safety by going up the cliff. An appropriate location was identified and a second lifeboat crew member was put ashore with additional torches to escort the casualties to the ledge. They were recovered one by one.

After nearly four hours on scene, all casualties were recovered safely and the lifeboats were released to return to station. The lifeboats returned shortly before midnight.

Volunteer lifeboat crew member Becky Mack said: ‘The conditions were challenging which choppy seas and a large rolling swell. We had to carefully navigate the cliffs with the aid of spotlights to find the safest locations to put the volunteer crew members ashore and to recover them. As the rescue progressed the sea state deteriorated, but thankfully the casualties and crew members who were ashore were well clear of the waterline.’

Notes to editors

Attached is an image from last night’s shout. Credit RNLI/Swanage

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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 Ireland from 238 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 240 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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