SPECTACULAR soaring displays by the Red Arrows during Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week saw approximately 20,000 people flock to the town to catch a glimpse of the action.

The popular highlight of the annual event in aid of the RNLI yesterday, Thursday July 24, proved a hit with spectators once again, together with a whole host of events throughout the week keeping the fun and excitement going.

This year marked the 41st year of Lifeboat Week and organisers – the Lyme Regis and Charmouth RNLI Guild – are determined keen to make this year’s event bigger, brighter and better than ever before.

RNLI lifeboat guild chair elect Irene Roper said thanks must be given to the town, to the visitors to Lyme, and to the ‘incredible hard work’ of the RNLI crew, guild and committee who have been working 14-hour days to make Lifeboat Week the best it could be.

Irene will be taking over as chair of the RNLI Guild next week from retiring chairman Rob Michael.

Irene added: “The weather has been scorching and we’ve had people coming up to us saying thank you and how much they’ve enjoyed themselves, which is really what it’s all about.

“Overall the week has been a brilliant success with the Red Arrows and Falcons creating, in my opinion, the best displays we have ever had here in Lyme.”

Irene added that from a fundraising point of view, exact figures are not yet known but things are looking really good.

She said: “For example, one of 40 collectors we had during the Red Arrows display took nearly £400 in their pot in just a couple of hours, which is fantastic news.

“Also, the RNLI crew held two barbeques, where they sold more than 800 hot dogs and raised £2000.

“The week has been really successful so far because the crew and the guild have been working as one.

“Not only have we raised money but we have also got to talk to so many people about the work the RNLI do – which is just as important.

“We are all now looking forward to the grand duck race at noon today, Friday July 25, and the tug ‘o’ war to round off the week on Saturday.”

Lifeboat Week launched in style on Saturday, July 19 with a welcome display by the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat.

The lifeboat was joined by the latest lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet, the Shannon class vessel from nearby Exmouth.

Sunday saw the popular bath tub race return to the town, with the winners crowned as the Lyme Regis Fire and Rescue team.

Crowds of people lined the harbour and the iconic Cobb on Sunday evening for a chance to catch the Falcons parachute display team in action.

Family fun was the order of the day on Monday with the popular crab fishing contest for children returning to the town, and among Tuesday’s events was the teddy bear’s picnic at 4pm.

Wednesday marked another packed day including swimming challenges for adults and children.

Paul Harrison, 15, was crowned the winner of the children’s swimming race, while Samantha Rose won the adult swimming challenge out of more than 35 participants.

A range of displays by the RAF’s Red Arrows on Thursday dazzled the crowds and made this year’s Lifeboat Week one to remember.

The ever popular grand duck race will return at noon today, together with a firework display lighting up the sky this evening.

Lastly, Saturday will round off the annual event with the tug o’ war between the lifeboat crew and the coastguards, which will be held across the harbour entrance.