RNLI crews lead the way with new kit

RNLI crews on the North East coast have become the first in England to receive new state-of-the-art life-jackets.

The equipment arrived at the charity’s eight lifeboat stations from Berwick to Tynemouth, including Seahouses, Craster and Amble, two months after an appeal was launched to pay for them.

Incorporating the latest material technology, they have been designed by the RNLI and manufacturer Crewsaver specifically to meet the charity’s search and rescue requirements.

They are a far cry from the original cork life-jackets invented by RNLI Inspector Captain Ward in 1854.

Andy Clift, RNLI inspector for the north, said: “The RNLI has always tried to provide our volunteers with the very best equipment to ensure they can operate as safely and effectively as possible. These new life-jackets incorporate the best modern technology available to help our volunteer crews carry on doing what they have done for the past two centuries – save lives at sea.

“However, they can only do that thanks to the support of the public, and I would like to thank all those who have already helped us fund the new life-jackets, or who are planning to fund-raise this year to help us provide these vital pieces of kit for our volunteer crews.”

There are two designs of life-jacket, one to be worn on all-weather lifeboats and the other on inshore boats.

Both provide a comfortable, secure fit, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness in life-saving.

Crotch straps prevent it riding up over the head when in the water, and an integrated harness, designed to pull the life-jacket away from the wearer’s neck, allows greater freedom of movement during rescues.

The life-jacket has zipped pockets for casualty care kit, torches, gloves or knives, and a spray hood to protect against sea spray.

Fund-raising has not been completed at all lifeboat stations in the region and will continue to meet the full cost of the vital pieces of kit – an average of £3,000 per station.

To make a donation, visit www.rnli.org.uk/fundraising or call 0300 3009902.