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Celebrate the work of lifeboat crews

PUBLISHED: 09:12 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 30 June 2010

Norfolk's coastline is protected by lifeboats, whose volunteer crews keep the shores safe and rescue sailors and swimmers in trouble.

But not everyone knows that a third of them are independently run, outside the RNLI, and need to tackle fund-raising as well as life-saving to keep themselves afloat.

Norfolk's coastline is protected by lifeboats, whose volunteer crews keep the shores safe and rescue sailors and swimmers in trouble.

But not everyone knows that a third of them are independently run, outside the RNLI, and need to tackle fund-raising as well as life-saving to keep themselves afloat.

In Norfolk there are four independent stations at Mundesley, Sea Palling, Hemsby and Caister.

Some were originally RNLI-run but went on to be independent after several stations were closed during a re-organisation in the 1960s; others have come about through community initiatives.

All crews are made up of volunteers who are on call 24/7 and regularly help the coastguard.

Tomorrow, independent lifeboat crews across the country will be joining forces to raise awareness for the non-RNLI stations.

The public is being urged to join in the day by wearing something orange or holding an “orange” fundraising event for their local lifeboat unit.

A spokesman for Independent Lifeboats UK, which has organised the event, said it was vitally important to raise awareness of the work of independent crews, which need continued support to run at the same high standard for which they have become renowned.

“Our hope is that by all celebrating being independent on the same day we can highlight the number of non-RNLI units around, raising awareness for our causes.

“We will never be as large as the RNLI, but our services in the areas we operate are just as crucial and with rising costs every year it is more important now than ever for our local communities to realise just who we are.”

The independent crew at Caister Lifeboat station deals with call-outs ranging from helping people on capsized vessels to providing help for those taken ill at sea.

Paul Garrod, chairman of the Caister lifeboat service, said the crew would definitely be wearing orange to mark the day and will have various collection pots.

He said: “There is no telling how many call-outs they may have from year to year. Last year they had 45 call-outs, but this year, so far, things have been relatively quiet.

“We need to raise £200,000 a year to maintain the lifeboat. It is very hard work to raise that sort of money, especially because the RNLI is such a well-known organisation, and people do not always realise we are independent.”

The Mundesley Inshore Lifeboat was set up in 1972, and has taken part in the rescue of some 100 people in trouble, including fishing boats, windsurfers, swimmers and divers.

It is made up of approximately 70 people: 20 crew, 15 directors, 15 fundraisers and 20 shop helpers.

Dave Francis, second coxswain with the team, said: “Orange Day is a national scheme that has been set up to publicise the work that independent lifeboats carry out around the coast.

“There are over 50 of us recognised independent lifeboat crews that are operated under the same standards as the RNLI, but completely separate; we receive no government funding.”

Mundesley will be supporting the Go Orange Day by holding an open day on Sunday, from 10am.

Over the weekend the crew will also be seen around the area in orange t-shirts with leaflets promoting Independent Lifeboats.

Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service was founded in 1975 and since then has carried out more than 12,000 callouts at sea and on the Norfolk Broads.

Tomorrow the crew will be holding collections outside Lathams at Potter Heigham, for people to see the Broads lifeboat, and there will also be a crew at Cherry Lane Garden Centre, South View, Fritton.

During the evening the crew, some dressed in full kit, will be visiting pubs in Hemsby and Winterton holding collections.

Palling Volunteer Rescue Service was set up in 1972, and their boat, Lions Roar, is designed to assist dive boats and jet skis.

To help with fundraising towards their annual running expenses, which are between £12,000 and £14,000, they will have their doors open on Sunday morning from 10am.

To find out more about independent lifeboats, visit www.i-lifeboat.org.uk

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