10:00am Friday 17th February 2012
By James Tourgout
THE Lyme Regis lifeboat launched 30 times in its last full year before being replaced by a new craft.
New figures from the RNLI showed that the craft was sent out 30 times in 2011 to help 23 people – including a woman in a wheelchair who fell off The Cobb.
Eight of these emergencies were in the hours of darkness and in total the volunteers spent 1,024 hours at sea.
The figures come as it revealed that a special parade is to be held to mark the departure of the Pearl of Dorset lifeboat before a new one comes into service.
Lyme Regis RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Grahame Forshaw said: “Overall, I feel people have behaved responsibly when they have gone to sea.
“As a lifeboat crew we had a fairly long, lean spell during the summer when there were no incidents, but that has to be good news in terms of safety at sea.
“From my observations as RNLI Lifeboat operations manager and harbourmaster in Lyme Regis it is clear that the majority of people are behaving well on the water and heeding all the advice about being prepared for all eventualities when they set out.”
He added: “Obviously, the incident on October 7 last year when a young woman lost her life when her wheelchair fell into the harbour will remain with us.
“It is a memory that will stay with our crew members for a very long time to come.
“However, I know that everyone involved did everything they possibly could in the most difficult circumstances to save that lady.”
The Pearl of Dorset lifeboat has served Lyme Regis since 1997 and is to be paraded through the town as a special ‘thank you’ to the people whose contributions paid for it to be built.
Its 14 years of service comes to an end at the beginning of March when a new lifeboat takes over.
The crew thought it would be a fitting show of gratitude to take the boat on a farewell journey through the town centre.
The boat, on its trailer, will be towed by its tractor from the lifeboat station starting at noon on Sunday, February 26.
With an escort supplied by police and the coastguards, the Pearl of Dorset will travel up Cobb Road then down Pound Street to Broad Street before turning round at the bottom of the town and returning.
One of the organisers, helmsman Martin Croad, said: “It was the contributions of the people of Lyme Regis and the surrounding areas that paid for the boat in the first place, and that is why it was named the Pearl of Dorset.
“We just thought we would like to make this gesture of thanks to everyone for buying this fine vessel that has helped us save many lives over the years.
“We hope plenty of people will turn out to give us a wave.
“And on this special occasion we won’t be making a collection for the RNLI charity. “On the contrary, we hope to have some little presents to hand out to any children we see on our route.”
The Pearl of Dorset will be replaced by Spirit of Loch Fyne on March 3.
• RNLI lifeguards on Lyme Regis and West Bay beaches also dealt with 217 incidents and assisted 218 people during the summer of 2011.
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