Local RNLI teams rescued over 100 people in 2011

LIFEBOAT crews in the north of England recorded one of their busiest periods to date last year.

There were 1,270 RNLI lifeboat launches in the north altogether in 2011 with 61 of those being by Whitby and a further 17 from the Staithes and Runswick RNLI team further up the coast.

Whitby’s all weather lifeboat launched 34 times and the inshore boat was turned out 27 times.

Between them they assisted 94 people while the 17 Staithes and Runswick launches helped 18 people.

Mike Russell, the coxwain of Whitby lifeboat, said they usually averaged between 50 and 60 call outs per year.

For the all weather vessel, the nature of calls is usually to aid broken down vessels and just last month it helped tow in two boats to Whitby harbour in rough seas.

Much of the work for the inshore boat comes during the summer and is in and around the coastline helping people who are cut off by the tide or who have fallen and hurt themselves.

Some jobs are always difficult to deal with, he said, such as one in the early part of 2011 where they had to recover the body of a man who committed suicide by jumping from the Abbey Cliffs.

He said: “The boats could not access him because of the surf so rather than let him wash away we had to send a swimmer from the boat and sit with him for 20 minutes until we could get a helicopter.”

RNLI Divisional Inspector for the north, Andy Clift said: “Last year we saw a 22% increase in people rescued compared to 2010 and a 3% rise from the previous high.

“In all, 1,237 people were helped in some way by our lifeboat crews in the north of England and I am sure they and their friends and family will join me in thanking our volunteers for the dedication they demonstrate time and time again to saving lives at sea.”

When asked if there were any jobs that particularly pleased the lifeboat crew Mr Russell added: “Every time we get somebody back it is a happy ending.”