IT’S a sobering figure. Last year, lifeboats in the North launched 1,028 times and rescued 1,027 people.
In the North East, the busiest lifeboat crew was Tynemouth’s, who were called out 65 times and rescued 64 people.
Sunderland’s crew were third busiest, after Whitby’s.
In all, across the UK, more than 8,700 people are alive now, who might not have been if it hadn’t been for such volunteers who give their time – and often risk their own lives – to be there when they are needed.
But of course such a service costs money – millions of pounds every year, to keep the boats at sea etc – and pretty much all of it comes from donations.
So if you’re down-street in Shields this coming Saturday, perhaps you can spare half an hour to drop into Ocean Road Community Centre, where South Shields Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild will be holding a craft fayre.
It runs from 10am to 1pm, and there will be stalls selling home-made cakes, craft work, hand knitting and lifeboat souvenirs.
There’ll also be a tombola, and a raffle for a beautiful quilt.
It also comes with tea, coffee and biscuits – just £1.
As a reminder of the long history of the lifeboat here on the Tyne, enjoy the picture here which came to me a while back, which is a dramatic one of a boat attending a wreck at the mouth of the river in 1837, from a painting by the artist Stewart Henry Bell, who was born in Newcastle.