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St Bees RNLI responds to a Mayday call.

Lifeboats News Release

St Bees RNLI volunteers responded to a Mayday call on Tuesday 12 June after opening their lifeboat station to aid Cumbria Fire and Rescue. The Cumbria fire service had been called to a wild fire that had started on St Bees South Head.

St Bees RNLI lifeboat returning to the station with the fire on St Bees Head still burning in the background.

RNLI/Colin Wadey

St Bees lifeboat returing to station

The RNLI volunteer crew had only just returned home after their regular Tuesday evening training exercise when a number of fire engines, including the Wild Fire unit, made their way to St Bees beach with blue lights flashing. Some of the lifeboat crew who live close by decided to open up the lifeboat station to provide a base for the fire crews. As they were opening the lifeboat station a Mayday call was heard over the station radio. This was quickly followed by the RNLI crew pagers sounding to launch the ILB (Inshore Lifeboat). Many of the crew were already at the station so the lifeboat was quickly launched.

Belfast UK Coastguard informed the lifeboat crew that a small vessel with three people onboard was taking on water about a quarter of a mile south of Whitehaven Harbour. The stricken vessel was quickly located, and the lifeboat came alongside. The salvage pump was immediately deployed and a tow was established. The small boat was safely brought into Whitehaven Harbour. Once inside the harbour members of Whitehaven Coastguard met them.

With the fire still burning on the headland Workington’s ALB (All Weather Lifeboat) had launched to assist the fire service in spotting the many individual fires that were burning on the cliff face.

St Bees Lifeboat Operations Manager Dick Beddows said ‘This was a long night for our volunteers with both incidents coming right after a training exercise. Our crew responded very quickly to the Mayday, and the shore crew were pleased to be able to provide hot drinks and biscuits to our colleagues at Cumbria Fire and Rescue.

For more information please telephone Colin Wadey, St Bees RNLI Volunteer Press Officer on 07742207222 email

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, Carrybridge 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