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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Reflecting on a busy year for Barrow lifeboat heroes

AS 2013 comes to an end, a lifeboat team has reflected on one of its busiest years in recent history, when at one point it was averaging two call-outs a day.

AS 2013 comes to an end, the Barrow lifeboat team has reflected on one of its busiest years in recent history, when at one point it was averaging two call-outs a day.

Barrow RNLI attended 41 incidents in 2013, dealing with engine fires, crashes and capsized boats in the Irish Sea and Morecambe Bay, day and night.

August was by far the busiest month for the rescue team, when they attended 10 incidents in the space of seven days – including the scene of a dramatic helicopter rescue.

At one stage, such was the demand for the RNLI, the crew was relaunched just minutes after returning to base from a previous job to rescue eight passengers from a vessel that had caught fire.

Speaking about the busy summer, John Falvey, deputy launch authority at Barrow RNLI, said: “The whole summer was busy. Logistically, it was definitely one of our most challenging periods.

“I think we did something like 12 rescues between January and March, and then it just went mad in August. Sometimes we might go months without getting called out and then suddenly get loads.

“The rescues mainly involved us towing vessels that had broken down, although there were a few fires too.

“We had really good weather this summer, which I think might have led more people to launch boats when they maybe weren’t as experienced. There were more boats on the sea so there was bound to be more incidents.

“We had one or two rescues involving people walking across the sands of Piel, where they got cut off by the tide.

“It has been reasonably quiet from September to the present.”

One of the most dramatic incidents of the year took place on Wednesday August 28, when the RNLI crew were scrambled to a crash involving a yatch and a guard boat at the West of Duddon Windfarm, off Walney.

The yatch skipper showed signs of illness from shock so a rescue helicopter from RAF Valley on Anglesey was called.

The casualty was airlifted to Furness General Hospital, from where he was later discharged.

The crew was also involved in the rescue at the end of August of two teenagers, who had got stuck on one of the supporting pillars of Jubilee Bridge, between Barrow and Walney, as the tide started to rise.

The RNLI crew is made up entirely of volunteers and relies on donations, as it receives no government funding.

The year has seen numerous fundraising events for the charity, including a £2,000 donation from the ‘4 Charities Shop’ in Barrow.

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