SUNDERLAND lifeboat station is the busiest in the North of England, according to new rescue figures.
RNLI crews at the centre, which traditionally deals with a high number of emergencies, attended 100 call-outs and rescued 100 stricken sailors, fishermen and swimmers last year.
Despite an overall drop in “alerts” from 124 in 2011, senior helmsman Paul Nicholson said it had been a “very demanding” 12 months.
“One key success story for 2012 is that we have expanded the number of operational volunteers to enable us to cope with our increased workload,” he said.
In total, there were 1,024 rescue launches from the charity’s 33 stations in the North of England.
Wearside was followed by Blackpool – 92 launches and 23 rescues; Tynemouth – 54 launches and 78 rescues; Cleethorpes – 50 launches and 51 rescues; and Hartlepool – 47 launches and 48 rescues.
In total, 46 per cent of rescues in the sector were to recreational craft, 22 per cent to people ashore, 15 per cent to people in the water, and eight per cent to fishing and commercial vessels.
Overall, the statistics show a 19 per cent decrease in lifeboat launches in the region compared to 2011, which was the second busiest year in RNLI history.
Operations director Michael Vlasto said the drop in launches was probably due to fewer people heading to the coast in the poor summer weather. However, he also pointed out that volunteers spent a collective 6,577 hours at sea in 2012 and a further 4,307 hours carrying out training exercises.
“The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea,” he said.
“To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the UK and Ireland.
“It’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity.
“They wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge ‘thank-you’ to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.”
RNLI lifeguards on 28 beaches in the North of England also responded to 1,515 incidents, helped 1,774 people and advised 317,246 beachgoers on safety.
Across the UK and Ireland, the RNLI launched 8,321 times, rescuing 7,912 people.
RNLI lifeguards responded to 14,519 incidents and helped 16,414 people.
The charity’s Flood Rescue Team also had their busiest year on record, deploying 11 times.