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Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 11:28 UK
Dorset coastguard: Patrolling Lulworth Cove
Stephen Pack at Durdle Door
Stephen has been a coastguard for 33 years and was awarded the MBE

Just a mile away from Durdle Door - one of Dorset's most iconic spots - the volunteers at Lulworth coastguard station help to save many lives.

They are ready to respond to calls around the clock, and they never know quite what they could face.

Deputy station officer Stephen Pack said: "We get about 40 calls a year here, but our calls are often unusual."

One was on Sunday when a 75-year-old man jumped - or "tombstoned" - 30ft (10.5m) off Durdle Door into the sea.

'Hitting concrete'

The man, who was taken to hospital but later discharged, suffered injuries to his stomach.

Stephen said: "It was very unusual to find someone of 75. The chap was very fit but I would have thought he might have reconsidered what he was doing.

Durdle Door on the Dorset coast
The 75-year-old man jumped 30ft (10.5m) from Durdle Door

"He was very lucky not to be more seriously hurt.

"Jumping from that height into the sea can be like hitting concrete.

"Also you don't know what's underneath the surface. Here at the Door the seabed is very rocky.

"You also have to consider the tides - you could jump in and could just hit the bottom.

"I wouldn't take the risk and I wish others wouldn't but we're not there to pass judgement. We're called because someone has been injured."

Helping others

Stephen has been a coastguard at Lulworth for 33 years.

He joined when he was 18 and it is something he enjoys doing, fitting his part-time voluntary coastguard commitments around a full-time job based in Bovington.

Durdle Door on the Dorset coast
"If you respect the sea, the sea will respect you," said Stephen

He said: "I think [what I get out of it] is helping other people when they're in a situation that they don't expect to be in."

The worse situation he and his colleagues had to face was when two local teenagers, Charlie Morrell and Matthew Myburgh, drowned in November 2005.

He said: "They were friends of my children, and we'd only been with the lads about three quarters of an hour before they disappeared.

"We spent days looking for them and unfortunately they turned up on the beach about a week later."

MBE award

Stephen and the team manage to save many more people than they lose.

He said: "We've had many calls for cliff rescues for people who are overdue and have become lost while walking, we also get calls to rescue dogs occasionally."

Two people about to climb Durdle Door
"We can't stop people but we advise them not to," said Stephen

Stephen was recently awarded an MBE for his work with the coastguard, and he says he is expecting a letter from the Queen anytime, with an invitation to the award ceremony.

The station at Lulworth looks after an area of coast from Worbarrow Bay, east of Lulworth along to near Ringstead Bay, and is co-ordinated by the Portland-based main coastguard.

As the main part of the summer approaches, and the camp sites around Lulworth fill up with tourists, Stephen says the message from the coastguard is simple.

"Be careful - a lot of people may come to the seaside who haven't been here before.

"I always think if you treat the sea with respect it will treat you with respect."




SEE ALSO
'Tombstoning' warning after jump
01 Jul 10 |  Dorset
Man, 75, hurt in 'tombstone' dive
12 Jul 10 |  Dorset
Anger at YouTube 'tombstone' clip
11 Jun 09 |  England
Boy injured in 'tombstoning' jump
09 Aug 09 |  England
Village heartbreak over lost boys
10 Nov 05 |  Dorset

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