Campaigning through busy summer has kept people safe, says RNLI

Sea Palling beach where the RNLI lifeguards are back on duty. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sea Palling beach where the RNLI lifeguards are back on duty. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Those tasked with patrolling Norfolk's waters say the mild weather and water safety campaigning has helped prevent tragedies this summer.

Earlier this year the RNLI and HM Coastguard warned that this summer was expected to see record numbers of people flock to the coast, as many chose to holiday at home rather than risk travelling abroad amid uncertainty over restrictions.

At the same time as issuing the warnings, the emergency services increased water safety messaging and made sure beaches had lifeguards, rescue boats were ready to go if needed and the public knew what to do if an incident occurred.

Now, as the summer holidays come to a close, the emergency services have said the preparations paid off, with a minimal number of serious incidents and far fewer than summer 2020.

RNLI water safety lead, Nick Ayres, front, at Brancaster beach for the National Coastwatch and RNLI

RNLI water safety lead, Nick Ayers, front, at Brancaster beach for the National Coastwatch and RNLI trial mobile unit set up at the Golf Club. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Nick Ayers, the RNLI's water safety lead, said a lot of work had been done in the run-up to summer to ensure teams along the coast were ready and public safety campaigns were as clear as they could be.

He said: "We prepared for the summer and the fact that it could be the busiest summer on record with families staying in the UK, which we have seen, and some of our beaches have been really busy.

"But luckily the weather has been on our side. We haven't seen the long hot summer days that we saw last year."

Bacton Coastguard station officer Pete Revell. 

Bacton Coastguard station officer Pete Revell. - Credit: Supplied by Pete Revell

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Pete Revell, HM Coastguard Bacton station officer, said the summer had been exceptionally busy with the coastguard receiving the same number of calls as it did during the whole of 2020 by August 2021.

He said: "It's been exceptionally busy. If we had had heatwaves, who knows what it would have been looking like because people aren't sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, so in a way it's been a blessing."

Broads Beat officer Paul Bassham. Photo: Steve Adams

Broads Beat officer Paul Bassham. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

On the Broads, PC Paul Bassham, from the Broads Beat team, echoed the thoughts of those on the coast saying preparation ahead of what was going to be an "unprecedented" summer was always going to be key.

"We have been really pleased. We don't want to talk it up, but we really do think the safety messaging is working. Bawsey Pits is the one fatality that we have had to deal with."

The Eastern Daily Press has launched the Play It Safe campaign urging the public to be water aware.

The Play It Safe campaign is urging the public to be water aware. - Credit: Archant

Play it safe, be water aware

This summer the Eastern Daily Press and its sisters papers, the North Norfolk News and the Great Yarmouth Mercury, launched the Play It Safe, Be Water Aware campaign to ensure visitors to Norfolk's waters stay safe.

David Powles, EDP editor, said: "Norfolk and Suffolk are blessed with some wonderful places to enjoy water, with miles and miles of stunning coastline and the beautiful Broads. 

"However, in recent years there have been several signs that perhaps people are not fully aware of the dangers which can lay beneath and are not fully preparing themselves before going into the water. 

"In 2020 we sadly saw several tragedies both on the coast and inland and already this summer there has been one tragic death of a young man. 

"We want to spread more awareness to those looking to enjoy our waters and hope this campaign will do just that, plus encouraging shopkeepers and businesses in popular areas to display our specially designed posters." 

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