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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 01:10 GMT
Sea pursuits prompt rescue rise
Inshore lifeboat
The RNLI had its second busiest year in 2005
Lifeboat crews are rescuing more people who are using the sea for leisure activities, the RNLI has said.

The charity said 2005 was its second busiest year ever in the North, with 1,090 launches and 1,011 rescues.

The busiest lifeboat station in the North East was Sunderland, with 72 launches. In Cumbria the busiest station was Barrow, with 42 launches.

More people taking part in activities like diving and kite surfing have been blamed for the increase.

Andrew Ashton, RNLI divisional inspector for the North, paid tribute to volunteer crews and lifeboat station personnel.

'Regular training'

He said: "Without the huge commitment and dedication of the RNLI's volunteers, we would be unable to carry out our increasingly demanding task of saving lives at sea.

"As well as responding to the call for help when someone is in difficulty, our lifeboatmen and women take part in regular training, which of course adds to the amount of time they have to spend at the lifeboat station and away from their families.

"It is important that we continue to monitor the number and types of rescues that the RNLI's crews take part in, to ensure that we match the demands of sea users with the correct level and type of lifeboat cover around the coast."

The 2005 figures show that 72% of rescues in the North were carried out by inshore lifeboats, reflecting the rise in the number of people now using the sea for leisure.

The RNLI launched a fundraising appeal last year called Train One, Save Many, which aims to raise 10m over five years.

The organisation has also reduced the number of all-weather rescue vessels working in the region, concentrating rescue efforts with inshore boats.

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