A DIVER was airlifted to hospital after getting into difficulties off the Dorset coast at the weekend.

Swanage's RNLI lifeboat joined the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter when local dive boat, Spike, declared a mayday distress call after picking up a diver in serious difficulties five nautical miles east of Swanage.

The lifeboat launched shortly after 2pm on Saturday.

A Swanage RNLI lifeboat spokesman confirmed: "The lifeboat launched and made best speed directly to the incident, arriving a few minutes after the helicopter.

"The coastguard paramedic winchman was lowered to the dive boat. First aid had been administered to the casualty, who was showing signs of improvement, and the decision was made to airlift the casualty directly to hospital.

"The lifeboat stood by as the casualty was winched, then escorted Spike back to Swanage where she was met my Swanage Coastguard volunteers.

"The lifeboat was then able to re-house, get washed down and prepare for further service."