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September 8, 2004
How Lelaina's legacy has come to the rescue

From the Western Daily Press

The Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft helped up to 50 people along the treacherous West coast this summer.

Since coming into service at the end of May, the rescue vessel - funded by generous Western Daily Press readers - has been on constant call to help keep the Somerset seaside safer.

In barely three months the craft, which skims over mud and sand, has been called out to help with seven rescues and brought eight people back to shore.

It has also used its unique handling abilities to assist search and rescue, and transported Coastguard specialists to hard-to-access mud spots.

Less high-profile, but almost as important, its crew has also given warnings to many sun seekers who have strayed into potentially dangerous parts of the notoriously muddy shoreline.

"Over the summer we have rescued, helped or advised close to 50 people along the coastline," said Mark Newman, spokesman for Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) which operates the hovercraft. "It has been an invaluable resource."

Despite dismal summer weather, it has been a busy beginning for the hovercraft, which was bought after five-year-old Lelaina Hall (pictured) became stuck in mud at Berrow two years ago, and drowned.

Five-year-old Lelaina HallMoved by the tragedy, and hoping to stop a repeat occurrence, readers of the Daily Press raised £115,000 to pay for the hovercraft and its boathouse at Burnham-on-Sea. After its first rescue, Lelaina's mum Caroline Hall said the craft had proved its worth.

A hot spot for incidents is the beach near Brean Down, where three of the seven call-outs have taken place. And while many have been very grateful for the hovercraft's help, at least one did not learn from his experience.

Tourist Mark Caddick, 30, and his son, Matthew, from Walsall, were picked up while offshore with a dinghy last month, only to be picked up again the next day in nearby Weston-super-Mare.

The hovercraft is fast becoming a key part of the emergency team effort along the Somerset coast, and although the summer holidays are over, crews are preparing for more busy times ahead.

"This autumn and winter could be a particularly busy time as the weather starts to get a little less friendly and people continue to walk out into the dangers of the mud," said Mr Newman.

A Coastguard spokesman said the hovercraft it was a "welcome resource".

Fundraising for the hovercraft, which costs an estimated £20,000 to run each year, is continuing.

In barely three months the craft, which skims over mud and sand, has been called out to help with seven rescues and brought eight people back to shore.

It has also used its unique handling abilities to assist search and rescue, and transported Coastguard specialists to hard-to-access mud spots.

Less high-profile, but almost as important, its crew has also given warnings to many sun seekers who have strayed into potentially dangerous parts of the notoriously muddy shoreline.

"Over the summer we have rescued, helped or advised close to 50 people along the coastline," said Mark Newman, spokesman for Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) which operates the hovercraft. "It has been an invaluable resource."

Despite dismal summer weather, it has been a busy beginning for the hovercraft, which was bought after five-year-old Lelaina Hall became stuck in mud at Berrow two years ago, and drowned.

Moved by the tragedy, and hoping to stop a repeat occurrence, readers of the Daily Press raised £115,000 to pay for the hovercraft and its boathouse at Burnham-on-Sea. After its first rescue, Lelaina's mum Caroline Hall said the craft had proved its worth.

A hot spot for incidents is the beach near Brean Down, where three of the seven call-outs have taken place. And while many have been very grateful for the hovercraft's help, at least one did not learn from his experience.

Tourist Mark Caddick, 30, and his son, Matthew, from Walsall, were picked up while offshore with a dinghy last month, only to be picked up again the next day in nearby Weston-super-Mare.

The hovercraft is fast becoming a key part of the emergency team effort along the Somerset coast, and although the summer holidays are over, crews are preparing for more busy times ahead.

"This autumn and winter could be a particularly busy time as the weather starts to get a little less friendly and people continue to walk out into the dangers of the mud," said Mr Newman.

A Coastguard spokesman said the hovercraft it was a "welcome resource".

Fundraising for the hovercraft, which costs an estimated £20,000 to run each year, is continuing.

From the Western Daily Press


Also see the Official BARB Web site home page

 

 


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