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Men account for all coastal fatalities in region, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 00:01 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:33 30 May 2019

Hunstanton RNLI took part in a training exercise with the HM Coastguard on The Wash at Hunstanton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Hunstanton RNLI took part in a training exercise with the HM Coastguard on The Wash at Hunstanton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

The number of deaths along the East of England's coastline rose last year and all the fatalities were male.

Lawrence Gibbs, 56, was last seen at Pakefield, near Lowestoft, at around 5pm on Saturday. Picture: Suffolk PoliceLawrence Gibbs, 56, was last seen at Pakefield, near Lowestoft, at around 5pm on Saturday. Picture: Suffolk Police

Figures released on Thursday (May 30) by the RNLI show that nine people lost their lives on the coast of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in 2018, more than double the figure of the previous year.

The organisation has said that the increase in fatalities in 2018 compared to the previous year could be linked to the hottest summer on record, which saw a surge in coastal visitors.

In July 2018, teenager Ben Quartermaine died when he was swept out to sea off the coast of Clacton.

And in October, an ex-army endurance swimmer, the 56-year-old Lawrence Wyndham Gibbs, accidentally drowned in the sea at Pakefield,

Winterton Coastguard station based in Martham.

Picture: James BassWinterton Coastguard station based in Martham. Picture: James Bass

Nationally, coastal deaths were higher last year (128) compared to the 2017 figure (109), but 2018 is the second consecutive year to show a lower than average figure.

The data also showed that over half (55pc) of those who died at the coast last year had ended up in the water unexpectedly.

Nick Ayers, RNLI community safety partner, said: "A worrying trend shows men accounted for all of the fatalities along our coast last year, and the vast majority nationally.

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"Many of them did not plan on entering the water, with slips, trips and falls catching them unaware while out running or walking.

"Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water can be the difference between life and death."

He added: "No one should have to lose someone they love to drowning.

"Many of the tragic deaths at the coast can be avoided if people understand the risks and prepare themselves by practicing the float technique.

"It's encouraging for us at the charity to see the number of coastal facilities fall below average for the second year running, and we're hopeful our education work is contributing to this downward trend."

The RNLI is launching its national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water by urging the public to take action and follow potentially lifesaving advice if they find themselves in trouble in cold water:

- Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about - this can lead to breathing in water and drowning.

- Instead, relax and float on your back until you have gained control of your breathing.

The RNLI's regional launch for its Respect the Water campaign will take place on day two of the Suffolk Show at Trinity Park in Ipswich, where the RNLI will be part of the Real Life Superheroes area (stands 381-409), with a B Class Atlantic 85 lifeboat, demonstrations and advice from lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

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