Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Friday, 25 December 2009

Volunteers want dry festivities

Lifeboatman Dave Robinson (pic courtesy of Adrian Don)
Dave Robinson had to abandon a Boxing Day family party

Dozens of volunteers in the north east of England are hoping enjoy the festive season without having to go out on the water.

Lifeboat crew face being called away from their Christmas Dinner or New Year's Eve party in an emergency.

The 11 Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) stations between Berwick and Redcar rely on 200 unpaid volunteers, on standby 24 hours a day.

From 24 December 2008 to 1 January 2009 boats were launched on four occasions.

One of those affected was Dave Robinson, who was called away from a family party on Boxing Day.

When his pager went off in the middle of the afternoon he had to abandon the celebration temporarily to go to the aid of a sea angler in difficulties on the River Tyne.

The police officer, from North Tyneside, said: "As an RNLI volunteer, you train for any eventuality and know you can be called out at any time, night or day, even at Christmas.

"I hope we don't get called out this Christmas but if we do, I'm sure the crew will be at the lifeboat station as quickly as ever to help whoever is in trouble at sea."

RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto, said: "We are proud to have such dedicated volunteers with such supportive families who spare them at a time when most other families come together."

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