Remember Dorset's livesavers this Christmas

Dorset Echo: ON STANDBY: From left, Ken Francis, Alex Martin and Phil Hansford ON STANDBY: From left, Ken Francis, Alex Martin and Phil Hansford

SPARE a thought for Dorset’s lifesavers this Christmas.

While people are tucking into their Christmas dinners, Dorset’s lifesavers will be ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

Whether it’s the volunteers and crew of the RNLI lifeboats, the coastguards in the Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre on Weymouth harbourside or the volunteer coastguard rescue teams – Dorset’s lifesavers will be on call across Christmas and the New Year.

Although the Christmas tree is up in the operation rooms, district officer Mark Rodaway said that it would be ‘business as usual’ for the team.

He said: “When everyone is at home enjoying Christmas with their friends and families, every available member of the emergency services, which very much includes Her Majesty’s Coastguard, are at work and keeping people safe as best they can.

“For us Christmas is very much business as normal. We can’t afford to relax or take time out.”

On Christmas Day the watch will change at 7am and there will be a handover brief, coastguards will then start their daily routine including sending out information to mariners on weather and monitoring commercial shipping in the Channel.

He said: “Everyone in the ops team will be on standby to respond to emergencies as and when they occur.”

The watch will then change over again at 7pm. He said the volunteer coastguard rescue teams would be on standby across the festive period.

Mr Rodaway said: “One minute they could be pulling a Christmas cracker and the next minute conducting a rescue on a 200ft-high cliff face.”

Mr Rodaway paid tribute to all the families of the coastguards and volunteers for their support, especially during the festive period. The teams were ‘amazing’ Mr Rodaway said and he paid tribute to all their hard work.

Warning for walkers and surfers

COASTGUARDS have to deal with a range of emergency shouts across Christmas.

District officer Mark Rodaway said that looking back over the different emergency cases the teams had dealt with over Christmases past included a lot of missing persons enquiries.

He said: “It’s a very emotional time of year for a lot of people, that perhaps brings into focus all sorts of issues.”

He added: “If anybody is feeling particularly low, we would recommend they seek help from health professionals or recommended charities, like the Samaritans.”

Other jobs that coastguards tend to deal with across the festive period were dogs falling down cliffs on festive walks and kitesurfers getting into trouble.

Mr Rodaway said: “We get an awful lot of dogs over cliffs. I think it’s a growing trend. Lots of people like to walk off the Christmas dinner on the beautiful coastline of Dorset.

“Many take their dogs and unfortunately a lot of dogs off leads go over the cliffs.”

He added: “My safety advice is if the weather is suitable, walk the cliffs with dogs but keep them on leads.”

Over the last four or five years Mr Rodaway said they had also seen a number of kitesurfers getting into difficulty.

He urged people to take care and said if in doubt, to seek advice from the coastguard.

  •  LIFEBOAT crews across the UK will be on standby to go out at a moment’s notice this Christmas and New Year.

Ken Francis from the Weymouth Lifeboat said that across the UK hundreds and hundreds of lifeboat crews and volunteers would be on call, ready to help save lives.

On Christmas morning, Mr Francis said it was tradition for the Weymouth crew, RNLI volunteers, their families and friends to have a drink at the lifeboat station.

The lifeboat is crewed 24 hours a day, every day of the year and Mr Francis said that the support of families and friends was very important.

He said: “The families play a big part in the RNLI.”

He added that while people were tucking into their turkey or preparing for their post-lunch walk, spare a thought for the teams.

He said: “Spare a thought for the volunteer crews around the coast who are staying available for any calls.”

He added a huge thank you for their supporters.

Comments (2)

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4:10pm Tue 24 Dec 13

radiator says...

Thank goodness you never hear of these lifeboat crews and coastguards going on strike.
Thank goodness you never hear of these lifeboat crews and coastguards going on strike. radiator

11:09am Wed 25 Dec 13

Yokels says...

What about the other volunteer life savers who are also volunteering to work over the Christmas period and do not get any money at all.
What about the other volunteer life savers who are also volunteering to work over the Christmas period and do not get any money at all. Yokels

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