LIFEBOAT volunteers have recorded one of their busiest summers on Wearside.
Sunderland RNLI was called into action 45 times from June to August, the joint highest in the North East.
The figure tops last year’s total of 34, with only Redcar matching it.
Hot weather has been blamed for the surge in call-outs as beach- goers basked in sunshine.
Gareth Wilson, RNLI divisional operations manager in the North, said: “The more people there are at the coast, going to the beach and taking to the water, the more calls there will be for RNLI assistance.
“Our volunteer lifeboat crews are at their busiest when the sun is shining, and some stations were called out several times a day at the height of the summer to help people who got into trouble on a trip to the seaside.” Statistics released by the charity show that its crews in the North East carried out 221 rescue launches during the summer months.
This is compared to 172 over the same period last year.
Among those saved were swimmers in serious difficulty, children on inflatables, kayakers who overturned and beach walkers who had been cut off by the tide.
In the whole of the North, a total of 598 rescue launches were made during the summer, a rise of 28.9 per cent on 2012.
Only the summers of 2003, where there were 632 launches, and 2009, which had 634 launches, were busier.
A total of 1,408 incidents were dealt with in the North compared to 1,143 at the same time last year.