Busiest year on record for vital coastal rescue team

Rescuers had their busiest year on record as more people continued to head to the coastline.

The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade at their busiest year on record in 2021 with 150 callouts. Picture by John Millard.
The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade at their busiest year on record in 2021 with 150 callouts. Picture by John Millard.

Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB) attended a record 150 incidents in 2021, passing the previous highest total of 147 in 2008.

The team, made up of 16 volunteer team members in their rescue service, also promote sea and water safety.

During 2021, there was 58 calls during weekends and more than 25 per cent of incidents took place between 9pm and 7am.

TVLB Captain Peter Lilley said: “As well as being challenging for our members, this places an additional burden on their domestic and social lives.

"We’re extremely grateful for the support of family, friends, employers and the wider community in helping our 16 team members provide our rescue service.”

Although the TVLB predominately cover the coastline from St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to North Shields, they are also called to support incidents in Blyth, Seaton Sluice and along the River Tyne.

During the year, four members of the team – section leader James Strain, Captain Peter Lilley and rescue team members Lewis Bartoli and Harry Harrison – attended 100 call outs.

Captain Lilley said: “This is a particularly noteworthy achievement as it is the first time since 2011 that any member has attended over 100 calls in a calendar year, and the first time we’ve ever had four members achieve the feat.”

The Brigade works extremely closely with other organisations including HM Coastguard, South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, the RNLI, North East Ambulance Service, Northumbria Police, Great North Air Ambulance Service and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

They also liaise closely with organisations including North Tyneside Council, Port of Tyne, Royal Quays Marina, North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards and Red Seal Rescue.

And the team got off to a busy start to 2022, with four call outs in the first four days, with another call out a few days later.

The Brigade is funded entirely by voluntary donations and you can find out more information on how to help and support them via www.tvlb.org