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Burnham-on-Sea
Tue Nov 13, 2018

BARB Search & Rescue

News and information for BARB Search & Rescue in Burnham-On-Sea

BARB (formed as the Burnham Area Rescue Boat in 1992) is a registered charity that operates two life-saving rescue hovercrafts and an inshore rescue boat in the Bridgwater Bay area.

This page provides all the latest BARB charity news, launch reports and fundraising info. Please also follow BARB on Facebook and Twitter 


History of the Burnham hovercraft

The story behind Burnham’s ‘Spirit Of Lelaina’ hovercraft

BARB, the group that runs the hovercrafts, was formed in 1992 when it began fundraising for its first rescue craft and own boathouse. In June 1994 Anneka Rice and the BBC TV show Challenge Anneka came to the rescue, building us a boat house on Burnham seafront in just 72 hours!

With the help of a generous grant from The Foundation for Sport And The Arts, plus donations from local businesses, BARB was able to purchase the rest of the equipment it needed in order to become fully operational as a rescue boat service.

Following the tragic death of five year-old Lelaina Hall in the mud at Berrow in 2002, the Western Daily Press launched a hugely successful fundraising campaign which brought in a whopping ƒ‚‚£115,000.

This funded the purchase of a fully-equipped hovercraft – called The Spirit Of Lelaina – which is now stationed in the boathouse at Burnham. During its first summer of operation it helped and rescued up to 50 people. The Western Daily Press and its readers remain one of the biggest supporters of the service, raising many thousands of pounds towards its operation.

Challenge Anneka team built seafront HQ in just 72 hours!

How BBC’s Anneka Rice built BARB’s hovercraft station…

Anneka Rice in Burnham-On-SeaThe hovercraft station which today houses the Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft was built in a matter of hours in 1994 during a flying visit by Anneka Rice and the crew from the popular BBC TV show Challenge Anneka.

The group behind the Burnham Area Rescue Boat had been formed in 1992 when it began fundraising for its own boat house. In June 1994 Anneka Rice came to the rescue, building a boat house on Burnham-On-Sea seafront in just 72 hours!

The BBC’s TV crew were on hand to record every part of the rapid construction and the final TV show was broadcast on BBC1 a few months later in the prime-time Challenge Anneka show. Click here for the full story and photos.

Burnham's powerful tides in the spotlight on BBC show

BARB helps BBC’s Jeremy Clarkson and ‘Top Gear’

A Toyota Futura was left looking rather worse-for-wear after Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC Top Gear team submerged it in the sea at Burnham in October 2003!

Crew members from the Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) helped the BBC crew put the off-road vehicle through a rigorous challenge by seeing whether the vehicle could survive one of Bridgwater Bay’s notorious storm tides.

The vehicle was parked on the town’s jetty and left to nature’s forces – but, not suprisingly, the sea won and the vehicle failed miserably! The episode was shown on primetime BBC television and helped to demonstrate the danger of the tides along Somerset’s coastline. Click here for the full story and photos.

Hovercraft Background

Facts, figures and photos regarding Burnham-On-Sea’s Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft:

Technical facts about the hovercraft
Find out how hovercrafts work
Challenge Anneka to the rescue!
Hovercraft Web sites and links

How to contact us

EMERGENCIES: If you need urgent help, CALL 999 and ask for the Coastguard who will summon the hovercraft if needed.

OTHER CONTACTS: Call BARB’s Chairman on 07834 635 797. You can also write to us at: BARB, Marine Rescue Centre, The Esplanade, Burnham, TA8 1BB.

Donate to BARB


BARB is a registered charity that relies solely on donations to run its service. Its annual running costs are over ‚£30,000. Unlike other rescue groups, no-one at BARB is paid – we are all volunteers – so every penny raised is put towards rescues, training and maintaining our equipment.

Support us by sending cheques, payable to ‘BARB’, to BARB at Marine Rescue Centre, The Esplanade, Burnham, TA8 1BB.

Make regular contributions: You can now download a form here to make regular contributions to BARB.

Become a sponsor: Find out who supports and sponsors Burnham’s hovercraft and how you can get involved – here.

How to contact us

EMERGENCIES: If you need urgent help, CALL 999 and ask for the Coastguard who will summon the hovercraft if needed.

OTHER CONTACTS: Call BARB’s Chairman on 07834 635 797. You can also write to us at: BARB, Marine Rescue Centre, The Esplanade, Burnham, TA8 1BB.

Meet Our Crew

Hovercraft lifesavers

Click here to see the Burnham hovercraft team

BARB Sponsors

Hovercraft sponsors

See a full list of the companies and groups that help BARB – click here

BARB Merchandise

Help support BARB by buying our official merchandise, such as pens, mugs, postcards and more, from Burnham Tourist Information Centre on the town’s seafront. It’s open throughout the year.

Facts & Figures

Learn more about the capabilities of the Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft:

Facts and figures about the Spirit of Lelaina

Beach Safety

The beaches at Burnham-On-Sea, Brean and Berrow are among Britain’s most scenic coastal areas, but there are dangers here too. Take note of these tips:

Beach guide and safety advice for visitors

Photos

Hovercraft photo gallery

Click here for photos of the Burnham hovercraft