TODAY marks the 200th anniversary of the coastguard in the United Kingdom having been founded on January 15 1822 and to mark the occasion the Maritime Minister has paid tribute to the service.

In Dorset the coastguard operates along the whole coastline on-hand to help 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Initially formed in 1822 under the Treasury’s control it was created to primarily combat smuggling and for the last 200 years it has saved the lives of many in Dorset and across the country.

Maritime Minister Robert Courts said: “Every day of the year, in all weathers, our coastguard is ready to help those in trouble on our coasts.

“It is this sense of selflessness, duty and quiet heroism that has defined the Coastguard throughout its illustrious history.

Dorset Echo: Maritme Minister Robert Courts picture: Department for Transport

“Today, HM Coastguard coordinates search and rescue missions from its network of rescue coordination centres around the UK, and operates ten strategically located helicopter sites, with coastguard rescue teams based at more than 300 locations, working closely with others like the RNLI.

“They specialise in everything from mud rescue - as physically demanding as it gets - to helicopter search and rescue. If you are in trouble around our coasts, you can be sure of one thing: HM Coastguard will be there to help.”

Last year alone the emergency service responded to more than 33,000 incidents in the UK, with the ‘skill and expertise displayed by the thousands of men and women in HM Coastguard admired the world over,’ added the Maritime Minister.

Those teams in Dorset include crews at Wyke, Portland Bill, Lyme Regis, Lulworth, Kimmeridge, Poole and Southbourne who help people in trouble on the county's coastline and at sea all year round.

Mr Courts continued: “As an island nation, with a seafaring tradition fixed into our national DNA, the protection of our waters has for centuries been vital to British security and prosperity – and it remains so today.

“HM Coastguard has for two centuries been at the heart of our national mission at sea, promoting trade, protecting our national security and, above all, saving lives.

Dorset Echo: Joint coastguard command centre, picture: Department for Transport

“As we mark the 200th anniversary of its formation, let us pay tribute to the remarkable role the coastguard has played in our national story, and look ahead to an exciting new chapter.”

Have you been saved or helped by the Coastguard or perhaps know soemone who has? If so let us know in the comments below.