A YEAR of wet weather has resulted in a busy 2012 for the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat.

Statistics released this week reveal that the charity’s volunteer crews across the South West rescued over 1,600 people – 38 more than the previous year.

In Lyme Regis, the lifeboat was launched 45 times in 2012, compared to 30 launches in 2011, and assisted 41 people, up 18 on the previous year.

Last year the crew spent a combined 543 hours at sea and carried out 16 shouts in dark.

Over the last five years the Lyme Regis lifeboat has launched 180 times and assisted 168 people.

Lyme Regis lifeboat operations manager Grahame Forshaw said: “It was a very busy year for the Lyme Regis crew with around a dozen more launches than in 2011. “But once again our volunteers demonstrated their dedication on every occasion when they answered the call to assist people in need of help.” But following the second wettest year on record, RNLI lifeguards in the region assisted almost 2,000 fewer people than the previous year.

Lifeguards on Lyme Regis and West Bay beaches dealt with 177 incidents and assisted 179 people, compared to 2011 when they dealt with 217 incidents and assisted 218 people. In-keeping with the weather conditions, the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team had its busiest year on record, deploying 11 times across the country with six of the destinations being in the South West. During November’s floods local volunteers Tim Edwards and Martin Croad were sent to Bridgwater in Somerset to help during the emergency.

They were also sent to Lostwithiel in Cornwall, along with helmsman Elliott Herbert, in December’s floods and helped to rescue 12 people, two dogs and six cats.

RNLI regional operations manager Andy Hurley said: “The figures illustrate just how dedicated our volunteer crews and our lifeguards are, giving a huge amount of time to saving lives at sea and I thank them and their families for their continuing commitment. “I would also like to thank all those who support our charity because their donations ensure our teams have the best training and equipment. “Our fundraising volunteers are as dedicated as always and even now are preparing for the RNLI’s annual SOS fundraising day on Friday 25 January.”

Mr Hurley said most of the charity’s call outs in the South West are to sailing and power boats with machinery failure.

“But I’m delighted to say the numbers are down which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go onto the water,” he said.

“However we have seen a rise in the number of fishing boats needing our assistance and in rescues of people ashore, that’s folk who are perhaps injured, trapped or cut off by the tide around the sea shore and cliffs.

“2012 has once again proved the value of the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews, lifeguards and Flood Rescue Teams.”