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RNLI Longhope Lifeboat searches for missing diver.

Lifeboats News Release

The Lifeboat Station Project photographer Jack Lowe catches the moment crew paged by Coastguard.


At 12.29 today the Coastguard requested RNLI Longhope lifeboat to launch and search for a missing diver lost in Switha Sound. As it happened the crew were all present on the pier and kitted up with only their life jackets to grab from the crew room. They were steaming out of Longhope Bay seven minutes later and arrived on scene at 12.48.

The lifeboat commenced a creeping line ahead search for the diver who was reported missing from a 6m twin engine dory, the Sheila C. The Y- boat from the lifeboat was also launched and at it's helm was Oscar Spence on his first shout with the lifeboat. Another local dive boat, the John L coincidently skippered by one of our Deputy Coxswains was also in the area and joined in the search.  RNLI Thurso Lifeboat was also paged. Sea conditions and visibility were good.

Happily the Coastguard received a call from the diver who had made it safely ashore at the Martello Tower off Hackness Point. The lifeboat was stood down at 13. 25 and returned to station, refuelled and made ready for service.

Amazingly the lifeboat crew were all on the pier and prepared to go because they were in the process of being photographed by Jack Lowe from the Lifeboat Station Project. Jack's incredible mission is to document every RNLI Lifeboat Station using Victorian photographic methods.

This required the crew to stand completely stationary for 5 seconds and it was at this moment their pagers went off and Jack caught the moment. Afterwards when we knew the diver was well and safe and the crew home and back ashore, Jack said: 'When you see this happening it reminds me of what I'm documenting. That these are normal folk, ready to go and help others at a moments notice. I'm so pleased the Lifeboat Station Project was able to save a few minutes on the launch time and what a treat to have another project first- to have a crew portrait made as the pagers are going off in their pockets.

I have seen the finished plate and it is spectacular. An unbelievable photographic moment on Longhope pier preserved on glass by Jack. What a very special historical record to have. Thank you Jack.

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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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland