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Busy 24 hours for lifeboat volunteers with five call-outs

PUBLISHED: 11:16 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:54 04 September 2019

Busy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat station

Busy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat station

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Lifeboat volunteers at Happisburgh on the north Norfolk coast had a busy 24 hours with five taskings from HM Coastguard over the weekend.

Busy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat stationBusy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat station

It started at 4.10pm on Friday, August 30 when the pagers alerted the crew to a 40ft Sunseeker cruiser with engine problems, taking on water off Waxham.

She was on passage to Lowestoft with four people on board.

The station's Atlantic Howard Bell was launched with Sean Thurston at the helm and Martin Gibbs, Will Baker and Chris Rigsby as crew.

When they arrived alongside the cruiser the engine had been restarted but was still taking on water.

Busy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat stationBusy 24 hours for Happisburgh lifeboat station. Pictures: Happisburgh lifeboat station

Mr Gibbs went on board the cruiser with the salvage pump and the lifeboat escorted the crusier to Great Yarmouth where they met Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat before returning to Happisburgh, being back on service at 9pm.

This was the first time Mr Thurston had taken the helm of the Atlantic since passing out as helm ten days earlier. He said: "It was great to put all the training into practice for real."

Then, on Saturday, August 31, the pagers went off again. This time the D-Class Russell Pickering was launched to Walcott to reports of four people in the sea on an inflatable.

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Russell Pickering was soon on its way with Tim Grimmer at the helm and crew of Mr Thurston and Mr Baker.

On arrival the crew found the four people were ashore so beached the D-Class and carried out casualty assessments before handing over to the ambulance service.

An off-duty policeman had used a board to go out to sea and get the persons ashore; the Coastguard asked the Lifeboat to do a coastline search for him to make sure he was okay; he was not located and was believed to have left the beach.

The station's Atlantic was also paged for this search but was stood down as the D-class had handed the casualties over to the ambulance service.

No sooner had the crews returned to the station when the pagers were set off again, this time to a small dinghy with engine problems off Walcott.

Howard Bell was dispacthed to the scene with Mr Thurston on the helm and Mr Grimmer and Mr Baker as crew. When alongside the dinghy they found the engine had been restarted.

The crew were then tasked by HM Coastguard to a person who had swam out to recover a ball from the sea. The crew soon located the person close to the beach and watched him reach the shore, then returned to the dinghy and escorted it safely back to shore. Howard Bell returned to staton and was then ready for service again.

Senior helm Tim Grimmer said: "People need to be aware that after the beach at Walcott has been rebuilt and the public are able to use it again, when there is an offshore wind there is nothing to reduce the force and effect of the wind, so all inflatables should be tethered securely to the beach to prevent them being blown out to sea.

"The first call-out to Walcott was four persons who had fallen out of an inflatable and if it had not been for the brave actions of the off-duty policeman, it could have been a different story. Enjoy the beach but be safe and if any problems, then call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

Cubitt Siely, Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: "Well done to the team for the last 24 hours, I'm proud of our station.'

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