Lifeboat takes matters into own hands with DIY beach solution

Erosion-hit Hemsby beach

The churned beach at Hemsby where the lifeboat is carrying out urgent repairs to the beach so it can launch. - Credit: Liz Coates

A lifeboat has had to take matters into its own hands re-shaping an erosion-hit beach so it can safely launch.

The Hemsby Independent Lifeboat Service says not being able to get out to sea to vessels and people in distress during the busy summer could be disastrous.

Hemsby lifeboat pays for beach works so it can launch

Kenny Chaney, borough and county councillor James Bensly, lifeboat crew member Chris Batten, and cosxwain Dan Hurd at Hemsby where the independent lifeboat service has funded urgent beach works. - Credit: Liz Coates

On Saturday machines were churning the sands and re-positioning huge concrete blocks to shore up protection and make an access for the boat which would otherwise struggle to negotiate the drop in an emergency.

Coxswain Dan Hurd said it was frustrating there was no other help and that if they didn't do it no-one else would.

The work, costing around £7,000, was being funded by the lifeboat, the landowner, and local businesses in Hemsby who were willing to contribute.

Work to create lifeboat slip way at Hemsby

A digger manoeuvres giant tank trap rocks at storm-hit Hemsby. - Credit: Liz Coates

"We have the summer coming up, and we are struggling with this slope," Mr Hurd said.

"This work has got to be done to keep us going through the summer, otherwise we would have lost the slipway.

"We know what needs doing so we are getting it done quickly."

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Mr Hurd added: "If we do not do this then we are off service.

"We do not worry about money when when it could be that lives are at stake."

Lifeboat funds repairs to Hemsby beach

Machinery was clanking on the beach at Hemsby where the lifeboat crew were taking action to repair the beach after recent storms made it difficult for them to launch. - Credit: Liz Coates

There was also the added benefit of providing easier access for beach-goers and the RNLI who would not be able to bring in their lifeguard station if things were to stay as they were, he said.

The 44 giant blocks, estimated at around 14 tonnes each, were laid in 1942 as tank traps in the event of a German invasion.

They have been moved around six times. So far the digger had unearthed around 30.

Shocking drone pictures show erosion along Norfolk coast February 2022

The beach at Hemsby where a rock berm is planned in February 2022. - Credit: Oliv3r Drone Photography

Visitors arriving on sunny Saturday were having to negotiate a path round the blocks while the digger did its work, the sight of the sand being so churned up and the rocks exposed proving an attraction in itself sparking many conversations about how things used to be.

Villager Kenny Chaney said the beach used to be some 14ft higher and that fishtail groynes were the answer to building it back up.

A rock berm aimed at slowing erosion at Hemsby has yet to win planning permission or funding, leading to uncertainty in the village where in some cases investment has been put on hold.

Borough and county councillor James Bensly said something needed doing at legislative level, with outdated laws doing  nothing to help the plight of vulnerable places like Hemsby.

To donate to Hemsby Lifeboat visit its Facebook page or email coxswain@hemsbylifeboat.co.uk.

The service is also appealing for sponsors.