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Busiest week of the year so far for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat station

Lifeboats News Release

Ilfracombe volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew have responded to six shouts this week with three of them on the same day.

On Monday 23 July, Ilfracombe inshore lifeboat (ILB) Deborah Brown II was tasked at 4pm to an inflatable dinghy drifting off Ilfracombe following several reports to the Coastguard from members of the public. The lifeboat located the inflatable half a mile north of the harbour with one person aboard. The casualty told the lifeboat crew that he had gone out for a drift but was unaware of the effect the tide and weather would have on the inflatable craft. The lifeboat escorted him back to the beach.

Ilfracombe ILB was launched again on Tuesday 24 July at 11:45am to a kayaker in the water who was clinging to his craft having fallen out and lost his paddle. When the lifeboat arrived, the casualty had been towed ashore by a fellow kayaker. The lifeboat crew located him ashore, checked his welfare and reunited him with his lost paddle.

Wednesday was the busiest day of the week for the volunteer crew as they were tasked to three shouts in the same day. The first was to reports of surfers in trouble off Woolacombe beach. Upon arrival, it was confirmed the casualties were safe and well ashore.

At 2:10pm, the all weather lifeboat (ALB) The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was tasked to assist the ambulance service and Ilfracombe coastguard cliff rescue team with a medical incident at Broadsands beach. One crew member was placed ashore with a stretcher to assist in treating the casualty. The casualty was transferred aboard the ALB and transported back to Ilfracombe harbour and a waiting ambulance.

Just as the ALB returned to the harbour, the inshore lifeboat was paged to reports of three people cut off by the tide near Wildersmouth Beach. The lifeboat recovered the casualties and returned them to safety ashore on the beach.

The ILB was tasked again on Thursday 26 July to reports of five people cut off at Hele Bay. After a brief search of the area, the crew were informed that the casualties had made their own way to safety and returned to the station.

Aboard the ALB for both shouts on Wednesday was volunteer RNLI Coxswain Andrew Bengey who had his first shout as coxswain at Ilfracombe exactly 30 years to the day.

Andrew said:

‘It was an honour to coxswain the lifeboat for my 30 year anniversary. We have been tasked to a wide variety of shouts this week making it the busiest week of the year so far.

We advise anyone visiting the coast, especially during the hot weather, to remember to respect the water. Always check the tide times and weather conditions before you set out. Dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard in an emergency.’

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Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 160 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 139,000 lives.

A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland

Sara Gumbrell

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