Local rescue boat is ready

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Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat, rescue charity
The PLIRB flag

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone – including local rescue service Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat.

But despite the logistical difficulties of providing a rescue service during a lockdown, the volunteers at the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat (PLIRB) want to reassure local communities along the coastline that their teams remain rescue-ready.

In a recent update on their website, the PLIRB team shared the various ways the volunteers are keeping the equipment and facilities ready whilst also acting in compliance with restrictions on activities and distance.

In an additional press statement, Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat Chair, Fiona Johnson, announced: “It is with heavy hearts that, in accordance with government guidelines to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we have been obliged to cancel our regular Sunday training session at the Boathouse.

“In addition to maintaining and checking equipment and ensuring that we are “shout” ready, the volunteers usually undertake a variety of training tasks both on land and at sea to enhance their competence and skills in a range of situations if tasked to a launch.

“Although we are not permitted to meet as a group at present, our well-trained crew and base teams will still be on call 24/7 to respond to any emergency that it is deemed appropriate to attend.”

Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training
Regular crew training activites have been postponed during the current lockdown

As a volunteer with Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat for over 30 years, the charity’s committee secretary, Jo Barry, shared that this is a completely new experience for the service.

“We haven’t seen a time where we haven’t been able to meet and train on a regular basis, until now.” Jo explained. “Together the crew are a strong group of people and it feels strange knowing that we won’t be meeting for a while. Like saying goodbye to a member of your family.”

But, as a charity which is all about protecting the coastline’s communities and visitors, the volunteers recognise that the current extreme measures are absolutely essential. Trainee crew volunteer, Martin Geldart explains why this is important to him personally, after his own recent experience:

“Having come down with coronavirus-type symptoms myself, I very quickly realised just how easily one could get infected by this awful virus and how quickly and violently the symptoms hit me.

“Working from home as a web developer and not going out that much socially around that time, it was highly likely that I contracted the virus locally. So, for the safety of everybody involved at Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat and the general public, I took a step back from training and isolated myself at home with the advice given by the NHS and 111.

I feel that PLIRB has done the right thing by scaling back its service to emergencies only, to protect its volunteers and to aid in the nationwide effort to reduce the spread of the virus.”

our well-trained crew and base teams will still be on call 24/7

But whilst reassuring the public that their rescue services remain active as needed across the coming weeks or months – however long the current lockdown lasts – this self-funded charity has also taken the necessary step of postponing fundraising activities, including their major annual fundraiser Open Day in May.

With the current situation coinciding with the recent sad loss of one of the rescue boat’s founding members, Lou Parsons, who passed away on March 19, it would be easy to assume that the PLIRB volunteers would want to take a step back. However, the PLIRB committee and volunteers remain as proactive and purposeful as lock-down allows. In fact, they’re looking forward to celebrating something positive by September.

“This year, 2020, is our 50th year of operation and as such we had planned particularly lavish celebrations at our Open Day in May” Fiona said. “Sadly, we have had to postpone this, but our proposed new date in September will be eagerly anticipated by all.”

Staying afloat

On a final note, and in respect of the cancellation of major fundraising activities, the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat’s committee and volunteers want to reassure the local community that they continue working hard to raise funds needed to run and equip an independent sea rescue charity, so that rescue services can be maintained throughout this crisis period.

“Although, as an organisation, we may not have a physical presence within the community during this current pandemic,” Fiona reminds us, “there are always things going on behind the scenes, both to raise our profile and to keep the pennies rolling in, as we rely totally on donations and our own fundraising efforts to keep us afloat and saving lives along the Sussex coast.”

Throughout the current restrictions, Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat remains in communication with coastguards and available to assist in emergencies along the coastline.  To check for updates on the service, please visit the PLIRB website.

Community notice

For clarification, Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat events and dates which are now postponed:

  • The fish and chip fundraiser on April 17, organised by the Robin Hood, Icklesham.
  • The PLIRB charity’s AGM on April 19 – postponed until further notice.
  • The Open Day scheduled for May 24 – it is hoped that this can be rescheduled for September, to combine with planned activities for Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat’s 50th anniversary.

Image Credits: Rye New library .

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