Published: September 13, 2009
Burnham's MP swaps city suit for wet suit for rescue exercise

Burnham-On-Sea's MP experienced at first hand the work of the town's marine rescue services on Sunday (September 13th) when he was 'rescued' during a joint training exercise.

David Heathcoat-Amory had a flight in a rescue hovercraft and a trip on a lifeboat when he became a 'casualty' for a day and was retrieved by the crews of BARB and the RNLI.

The MP was taken out into Bridgwater Bay onboard the yacht Walrus, skippered by Burnham Sailing Club's Racing Master Rod Southwell.

He was then transferred onto Burnham-On-Sea RNLI's Atlantic Class lifeboat, The Staines Whitfield, and taken to Stert Island.

Once there, BARB's Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft was on hand to take the MP onboard and fly him back to the safety of Burnham beach.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory also watched an RAF rescue helicopter take part in the exercise, winching several lifeboat crewmembers onboard.

RNLI helmsman Glen Cutter told "This was a fantastic chance to show David how the highly-skilled crews of both RNLI and BARB can work together."

"It also gave Burnham RNLI helmsmen a chance to work with RAF chivenor 169 on the delicate task of transferring casualties between boat and helicopter. An added value was the opportunity for the RAF crew to investigate close-up the difficulty of transferring casualties from a fully rigged yacht to the helicopter."

BARB's Hovercraft Operations Manager Steve Perks added: "The exercise was a great opportunity for the crewmembers of BARB and the RNLI to work on a joint exercise and David was very interested in the work we all do. He was the perfect 'casualty'."

Mr Heathcoat-Amory told "We are very fortunate to have such excellent rescue crews to call on in Burnham."

"I've seen at first hand today the dedication of the volunteers and the quality of the service they provide. It's been an amazing day."

Click here for a video interview with Mr Heathcoat-Amory during this event


Burnham-On-Sea Hovercraft Web site

Lifeboats website for Burnham-On-Sea


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