More than 1,000 people were helped by RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews in North Devon in 2012, new figures reveal.
Last year, RNLI lifeguards patrolled 16 beaches across Devon, dealing with a total of 1,714 incidents, during which they saved 12 lives and assisted 2,175 people.
The figures, obtained by the Journal, reveal Woolacombe was the busiest beach in the county with lifeguards dealing with a total of 383 incidents in the 12 month period. It was also revealed as the third busiest RNLI lifeguarded beach in the South West.
Elsewhere in North Devon, lifeguards dealt with 245 incidents on Croyde beach, and a total of 68 incidents on Sandymere and Westward Ho!.
Three lives were saved by lifeguards in Woolacombe and Croyde and more than 900 people were assisted.
On Sandymere and Westward Ho!, one person’s life was saved and a further 76 people were helped by RNLI lifeguards.
Andy Hurley, RNLI regional operations manager, said crews had worked hard throughout the year, often in poor weather conditions.
He said: “These figures illustrate just how dedicated our volunteer crews and lifeguards are, giving a huge amount of time to saving lives at sea. I thank them and their families for their continuing commitment.
“Despite the poor weather conditions our RNLI lifeguards have been busy, but the number of people assisted is relatively small when you consider that a staggering nine and half million people visited the lifeguarded beaches of the South West last year.”
The interactive map below shows the number of incidents dealt with at each lifeguarded beach in North Devon and the number of people assisted. Click on the marker to view statistics for each beach.
It was also a busy year for North Devon’s lifeboat crews, with Ilfracombe launching more times than ever before.
The crew were called out a total of 65 times, 43 on the inshore lifeboat and 22 on the all-weather lifeboat, making it their busiest year on record.
The two rescue boats spent a total of 793 hours at sea in 2012 and dealt with more than a quarter of the incidents in darkness. In the last five years, Ilfracombe’s lifeboats have launched 226 times.
It was also a busy year for Appledore’s lifeboats. The crew were called out a total of 68 times during which they assisted 62 people. They spent a total of 1, 174 hours at sea, carrying out nearly 40% of their rescues in the dark. Appledore’s lifeboats have launched 321 times since 2008, helping a total of 231 people.
Clovelly’s lifeboat crews had a quieter year than others across the county, launching just five times in the 12 month period. The crew helped eight people and spent 108 hours at sea. In the last five years, Clovelly’s lifeboats have launched 25 times and helped 26 people.
The interactive map below shows the number of launches at each lifeboat station in North Devon in 2012. Click on the marker to view statistics for each station.
Mr Hurley said there had been a rise in the number of fishing boat rescues and to those who got into difficulty ashore.
He said: “Call outs to sailing and power boats with machinery failure are still our core business in the South West, but I’m delighted to say the numbers are down which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go onto the water.
“However we have seen a rise in the number of fishing boats needing our assistance and in rescues of people ashore, that’s folk who are perhaps injured, trapped or cut off by the tide around the sea shore and cliffs."
Nationally the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team had its busiest year on record, deploying 11 times across the country with six of their destinations being in the South West.
In December, volunteers saved the life of a woman who had been washed from her car at Umberleigh in North Devon.
Mr Hurley said 2012 “once again proved the value of the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews, lifeguards and Flood Rescue Teams”.
He said: “I would like to thank all those who support our charity because their donations ensure our teams have the best training and equipment.”