LEGENDARY display team the Red Arrows paid Ilfracombe a flying visit earlier today as the town welcomed the return of Rescue Day.
The squadron of elite pilots carried out the fly-by just before midday as part of the annual event which celebrates the work of the emergency service across North Devon.
With their iconic vapour trails, the squadron were a last minute addition to the event – confirming their appearance little more than an hour before whizzing overhead.
Marnie Quy, from Events 4 Ilfracombe which oversees the event, said: “I was incredibly surprised at how easy it was to get them to come along. We filled a form in then someone rang me up. All of a sudden I was speaking to Red Two.
“With it being so weather dependent we couldn’t actually announce it until it was confirmed at the last minute, but it was absolutely brilliant.”
For visitors, the fly-by was not the only spectacle they were treated to at the event. A series of sea-based rescues were carried out by Ilfracombe RNLI, coastguard and lifeguards, all under the watchful eye of spectators who lined the pier edge.
Other displays also saw Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue put on a chip pan fire demonstration and Exmoor Search and Rescue take to Lantern Hill to carry out a mock cliff rescue.
Julia Balmford, team member and secretary for the Exmoor crew, said: “Our rescues can be any time of day. Often they’re in the pitch black. Here we can showcase some of our more technical skills. It’s why we have been here every year for quite a number of years now.
“It’s also good to show how we work with other agencies. Often people think it’s just the team on it’s own, but quite often rescues are multi-agency, whether it’s with the coastguard or the fire brigade or ambulance service.”
One of those who knows this first hand is Vanessa Glover, who was rescued from fast flowing waters near Umberleigh by RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team during flooding in 2012.
Now a keen fundraiser for the charity, she said events like rescue day are vital in raising awareness of the crucial role the emergency services play in North Devon.
She said: “So many people are coming up and saying they are regular supporters of the RNLI which is fantastic. They are the ones who make training the crew and buying equipment possible.
“I have seen first hand the extreme situations that they put themselves in, and I’m so grateful to them for it.”