RNLI beach lifeguards have busiest year

Perranporth lifeguard Image copyright RNLI/Nathan Williams
Image caption Lifeguards at Perranporth in Cornwall were the busiest South West team in 2013

A long, hot summer led to the busiest year yet for RNLI lifeguards patrolling 103 beaches in south west England.

Lifeguards were called to more than 13,300 incidents and saved 56 lives last summer, more than any year since the service was launched in 2001.

The RNLI said the "staggering number" was not surprising given it was the ninth warmest summer since records began in 1910.

RNLI lifeboats launched 1,449 times, saving 34 people.

Among the rescues were in:

• Whitsand Bay in Cornwall where RNLI lifeguards rescued two people and eight dogs

• Porthmeor Beach in Cornwall, where a dog on a kayak was rescued

• Camel Estuary in Cornwall, where an SOS written in sand triggered a rescue

• Sennen Cove, Cornwall, where a storm-lashed single handed sailor was rescued by RNLI lifeboat crew

RNLI lifesavers spent 10,207 hours helping others in trouble at sea, the equivalent of 425 days.

Rescuing people from sailing boats accounted for the greater number of rescues - 326.

One such incident was a dismasted yacht at the mouth of the River Yealm to which the Plymouth all-weather lifeboat volunteers responded.

Andy Hurley, RNLI regional operations manager, said: "The figures go some way to illustrating the incredible dedication shown by the charity's volunteers, without whom we could not carry out our core purpose to save lives at sea."

The South West region for the RNLI covers an area from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and to Mudeford in Dorset as well as the Channel Islands.

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