Busy time for Torbay lifeboat crews and RNLI fundraisers

Liz and Alan Lark with one of Alan's paintings

Liz and Alan Lark with one of Alan's paintings - Credit: Torbay RNLI

RNLI Torbay community engagement ambassador David Phillips: 

The summer is over but our boats are still busy.

So far this month, the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) has launched twice and the Inshore lifeboat (ILB) six times.

The following are examples of shouts to demonstrate the variety of tasks the boats launch for.

On October 7, both our all-weather and inshore lifeboats were launched in the afternoon following a call to the coastguard from a dive boat, stating that their two divers had not surfaced 20 minutes after being due to do so.

Both divers were subsequently spotted south of the Ore Stone by our trainee ILB Helm - 1.3 miles from their agreed surface point.

As our ILB motored out, two heads were seen bobbing beside a diver’s flag and an SMB float at over 250 metres distance.

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The divers were already more than a mile from their agreed surfacing point and still drifting with the tidal current when detected.

The divers, who had been in the water for over an hour, explained they had surfaced as soon as they realised the strength of the currents below.

They had dived to 14 metres and were submerged for only 17 minutes of their planned dive-time.

However, when they reached the surface, they were already too far distant from their dive boat to be either easily seen or heard.

Furthermore, their in-boat assistant was not expecting them back up for a further 30 more minutes.

Mark Criddle, Torbay RNLI Coxswain, said: “They were lucky to be spotted... the good thing is the divers had taken and deployed diver’s flags and surface markers, which meant it was easier to see them in fading light.”

The two divers were offered a helicopter winchman paramedic as well as on-land paramedic for check-ups, both of which they declined due to their shallow dive and short depth times.

After explaining the dangers of secondary drowning and what symptoms to look out for, our volunteer crew escorted the dive boat back to Brixham’s Breakwater slipway where dive boat and divers were safely landed.

On October 23, our volunteer crew launched the in-shore lifeboat (ILB) at 1.34pm to medivac a young girl who had fallen from a rope swing in Churston Woods and sustained minor injuries.

Due to difficult in-land accessibility, we assisted ambulance paramedics and coastguards by collecting her from Churston Cove and landed her back at the station where she was taken to hospital for attention.

Our ILB was then ready to return to service at 2:37pm.

Both these examples are dealing with genuine distress.

In contrast, both boats launched on October 14 at 8.35pm following sightings of three consecutive red distress flares.

Three calls had come in to the local Torbay coastguard auxiliary team, indicating that the flares might have been set off close to shore off Hollicombe beach.

After running the search with both boats until 9.36pm, the coastguard concluded the red flares had been fired from shore and we were stood down.

Both boats carried one final sweep of the shoreline vicinity waters, arriving back at 10.01pm and 10.14pm.

While it is good that people ring in if they see distress flares, setting them off on shore with no sign of distress wastes a good deal of valuable resources.

Torbay Lifeboat fundraisers

Torbay lifeboat station was 155 years old on October 3 – a fantastic achievement.

We also celebrate 20 years of service from our Severn class all-weather lifeboat which took up service at Torbay Station on October 31, 2001.

She is named ‘RNLB Alec and Christina Dykes’ in memory of Mrs Helen Christina Dykes whose bequest covered almost half of the build cost.

 A number of other individuals and organisations made significant contributions to the lifeboat and its facilities.

These are noted on a brass plaque which is mounted in the wheelhouse.  

Happy 20th birthday Torbay lifeboat! 

With Covid restrictions easing a bit we have been able to hold more fundraising activities including a coffee morning at All Saints Church as part of Sea Week, cover the flag and souvenir stall at Torquay seafront - an event previously postponed due to the weather - which raised over £600 and stalls and souvenir sales at Brixham Fish Quay Market - a good event raising over £1,200. 

Our first TLF organised coffee morning was held on October 6. 

We need to say thank you very much to Churchill Retirement Living, Sachs Lodge in Torquay, to Liz Lark and to Alan Lark who have been raising money for RNLI Torbay. Their fundraising efforts are amazing!

Liz raises lots through her Tai Chi classes and Alan has painted some wonderful pictures, sold at an exhibition and lunch held in the summer and hosted at Sachs Lodge. Thank you all for your generosity.

Jill Passmore receives a cheque at Churchill Retirement Living, Sachs Lodge

Jill Passmore receives a cheque at Churchill Retirement Living, Sachs Lodge - Credit: Torbay RNLI

Our vice chair Jill Passmore visited Sachs Lodge on Tuesday, October 26, and received a cheque for £526.29.

If you would like to help support our lifeboats and their volunteer crews, here are some ways you can:

  • become a member of the RNLI – go to RNLI.org
  • donate to Torbay Lifeboat fundraisers (TLF). Use our Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rnli-tlf21 Gift aid it if you are able to. 
  • become a fundraiser by joining TLF and/or volunteering to help at events. Do something extraordinary and give your time and skills to us. Every hour that’s volunteered will help save lives.  Fundraising events are held around the bay throughout the year. To find out more go to our Facebook page @TLFTorbay. 
  • Follow us on social media - Spread the word, like, share or retweet our posts.

For more information on all RNLI Torbay activities, go to www.torbaylifeboat.co.uk