THE life and times of Lyme Regis lifeboat men and women – and the lifeboats themselves – are captured in a new book from the RNLI.

The book is due to be launched on July 22, the first day of this year’s Lifeboat Week.

Written by the lifeboat station’s volunteer press officer, retired newspaper and BBC journalist Richard Horobin, the fully illustrated book is part of the charity’s history book project.

It tells how a makeshift lifeboat service started in the town in 1826, and how a Christmas tragedy led to Lyme Regis getting a ‘proper’ lifeboat, powered by sails and oars, 27 years later.

With much help from local historians and lifeboat supporters, the author has brought to life a fascinating collection of stories about dedicated volunteers who ran a lifeboat service in the town, despite all the odds, over a period of nearly 160 years. How they would row the lifeboat for hours to reach a stricken vessel….no twin 115hp engines such as power today’s lifeboat.

There is the crew member who was shipwrecked eight times as a mariner, the coxswain who served the lifeboat for 34 years and was famed for his strength, picking up a man with one arm and placing him on a table. He also salvaged a huge barrel of alcohol from a shipwreck and carried it single handed up a cliff.

The story of an MP who vanished without trace over Lyme Bay after being trapped in a hot air balloon makes incredible reading.

The dramatic episode when a ship was torpedoed by a German submarine a short distance from Lyme Regis harbour, and yet had an amusing twist amid the tragedy and chaos.

And in more recent times the amazing survival of a couple whose helicopter crashed into Lyme Bay in dense fog, the tragic tale of the severely disabled woman whose wheelchair fell into Lyme Regis harbour and the desperate attempts made to save her.

There are the lighter moments, too, such as the crew Christmas dinner when the annual awards are presented…including the Bent Propeller trophy.

The story of Lifeboat Week, from the early 70s, includes the ditching of a Navy helicopter in the sea, which wasn’t part of the event, although the hundreds who witnessed it thought it was.

The new book will be available from the lifeboat shop on the Cobb and other outlets in the town,from July 22 price £8.95 with all proceeds going to the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.