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Lifeboat keen to find new recruits

PUBLISHED: 15:04 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 July 2010

IT is a haven for holidaymakers and locals seeking a tranquil and relaxing break from everyday life.

With its beautiful scenery and wildlife, the Broads provides the perfect location for river trips and boating holidays.

IT is a haven for holidaymakers and locals seeking a tranquil and relaxing break from everyday life.

With its beautiful scenery and wildlife, the Broads provides the perfect location for river trips and boating holidays.

However, when things go wrong a group of volunteers are on hand 24 hours a day for 365 days of the year, making up the front line for Broads emergencies.

Formed in 1976, the Hemsby inshore lifeboat has come a long way from its early days when during its first summer season in operation it had to borrow a rubber dinghy.

Now the lifeboat has 22 devoted crew members and a purpose-built 5.85m Ribcraft ensuring crews are properly equipped to deal with the increasing number of Broads callouts.

Hemsby lifeboat started life after a number of people drowned on the Broads between Winterton and Scratby in the mid 1970s, and as the years have gone by, the lifeboat has increased its coverage of the Broads network. It now covers 125 miles of inland waterways from Waxham to California Cliffs and the lifeboat can also operate 12 miles out to sea.

After borrowing a dinghy for the summer season in 1976, the service was able to buy its own craft thanks to a donation from the Norfolk Broads Lions Club, which remains a devoted supporter of the lifeboat today.

In 1986, crew members helped build a station on the beach in Hemsby but 13 years later the lifeboat found itself needing to be rescued after harsh winter tides battered the coastline and eroded part of the beach.

The late Geoffrey Watling saved the day after donating a building at the entrance of Hemsby Gap which the crew still occupy today.

The lifeboats' Broads craft is towed to incidents by a Landrover and holds a crew of three - a helmsman, radio operator and navigator.

All crew members go through a three- month probation period when they learn the skills needed to operate safely out on the sea and on the Broads. And crew members train twice a week, on Sundays at 9am-midday and Wednesdays from 6pm-9pm.

While the books boast a healthy 22 crew members, the lifeboat is always on the lookout for new recruits and anyone interested in volunteering can go along to one of the station's training days.

Hemsby lifeboat is an independent station and relies on donations and continued support of the community.

The station holds several fundraising events throughout the year, including Hemsby Lifeboat Day on August 10, which is held on the beach with stalls, bouncy castles and lifeboat displays, and the Herring Festival on August 31.

Lifeboat supporters also attend other events throughout the year, including the Maritime Festival in Yarmouth.

To find out more, visit www.angliawebsites.com/hemsby_inshore_rescue or call 01493 731641.

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