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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 01:58 GMT
Busy summer for RNLI volunteers
RNLI Beach Lifeguard: Pic RNLI
The RNLI beach lifeguards protect 66 beaches in the South West
Thousands of people were rescued by RNLI volunteers in Devon and Cornwall this summer, the charity has revealed.

Lifeboats in Devon, Cornwall Somerset and Dorset launched 700 times, while lifeguards went to the aid of more than 8,000 people on the region's beaches.

The three busiest lifeboat stations were Weymouth in Dorset with 56 launches, Exmouth in Devon with 52 launches and 47 in Torbay, Devon.

The busiest lifeguard area was Carrick in Cornwall with 1,416 incidents.

RNLI Divisional Inspector Simon Pryce said inshore lifeboats had again proved to be the real work horses over the summer period.

People flocked to the beach to make the most of the sun when it did come out
John Broad, RNLI

"Research shows growing numbers of people are spending time in and around the water, especially in the South West," he said.

Mr Pryce said the inshore boats were ideally suited to working close to the shore line and were used on regular call outs to people cut off by the tide or floating away on inflatables.

The RNLI provides lifeguard cover on 66 beaches in the South West.

A spokesman for the beach lifeguards said volunteers had been kept busy, despite poor weather making it a slow start to the summer.

John Broad said: "However people flocked to the beach to make the most of the sun when it did come out and the lifeguards were extremely busy dealing with a variety of incidents."

He said the majority of lifeguards' time was spent preventing incidents by reacting to changing sea and weather conditions and giving beach safety advice to the public.

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