North Tyneside search and rescue team has busiest May on record with 18 callouts

Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade rope rescue
-Credit: (Image: Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade)

A North Tyneside coastal search and rescue team has had its busiest May on record.

Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB) was called out to 18 incidents in May, most of which are along popular spots on the North Tyneside coast Tynemouth, Cullercoats, and Whitley Bay. It exceeds the previous record-high of 16 calls in May 2009.

After an initial spell of 10 calls in 12 days, the intensity eased off a little later in the month. The most serious callouts included a casualty who was rescued from the sea off Tynemouth Longsands on Thursday, May 23, which the brigade were alerted to after a member of the public dialled 999 and contacted the Coastguard.

TVLB were assisted by a paddleboarder who went out to the casualty and kept them afloat, and Cullercoats RNLI who worked with them to locate and recover the casualty. Another serious incident occurred on Saturday, May 25, when eight volunteers worked with colleagues at Blyth Coastguard Rescue Team to rescue a young man who got stuck while climbing on rocks at Tynemouth Haven.

Team member Heather Peacock had to be lowered down the cliff before securing the casualty in a harness and bringing him to a place of safety. The young man was able to leave the scene with a parent, following the rescue.

Peter Lilley, secretary and captain of TVLB, put the busy month down to unsettled weather. He said: "Although we've had poor weather, we have had little spells of nice weather, and when that happens we get little spells of callouts.

"If we have settled, nice weather, we'll be at a certain level but it doesn't tend to go silly. But if the weather's nice just some of the time, people want to make the most of it and it might be the only opportunity they have to get out."

With the summer season now in full swing, Peter encouraged people to enjoy the North Tyneside coastline, but to stay safe. He added: "Know your capabilities and know your limitations.

"If you're going in the sea, go with someone else. Check the tide times and make sure the conditions are suitable for you."

"If you can, visit a beach which has RNLI lifeguards. That's King Edwards Bay, Longsands, Cullercoats and Whitley Bay."

So far, Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade has responded to 52 callouts in 2024. One of the most serious callouts so far this year was to assist a multi-agency rescue of a five-month-old baby, who fell down an embankment at Longsands Beach in a pram.