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Dog owner and pet rescued by hovercraft

Dog and owner rescued from Brean Down Credit: Alan Bowkett

A dog owner and his pet have been rescued by a rescue hovercraft and lifeboats from Burnham after the animal fell down the steep cliffs of Brean Down yesterday afternoon (Sunday Sept 20th).

BARB Search & Rescue’s Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft flew the pair back to the safety of the beach after the dog was left injured after a 40ft fall down the cliffs on the southern side of Brean Down.

Coastguards from Burnham and Weston were first called to the scene at 2pm after the dog owner, who is from Bridgwater, dialled 999 on his mobile phone to ask for help.

The crews worked closely together, with the lifeboats retrieving the man and his pet, named Blaze, from the rocks and the hovercraft then flying them over the mudflats to safety.

This was a great example of multi-agency team working.

The man had clambered down the cliffs to reach his dog at the water’s edge but then found he was unable to get back up.

There was therefore concern for him and the dog, who were quite a distance from the shore line. Our advice is always to keep dogs on leads while walking on Brean Down.

– Dave Welland, Burnham Coastguard Officer
A dog owner and his pet have been rescued by a rescue hovercraft and lifeboats from Burnham Credit: BARB
Dog and owner rescued from Brean Down Credit: Alan Bowkett
Dog and owner rescued from Brean Down Credit: Alan Bowkett
  1. National

New rescue helicopters 'will reach larger area of UK'

The Department for Transport has said that under the new contract helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.

An RAF Sea King helicopter that will no longer be used under the new contract. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

It added that, based on historic incident data, it is estimated there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 percent (from 23 to 19 minutes).

Presently, approximately 70 percent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK SAR region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 percent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.


  1. National

Background to Search and Rescue privatisation

A Sea King helicopter Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The plans to privatise search and rescue helicopters were laid originally out by the Labour government in 2006.

The plans were controversial, and designed to replace the ageing Sea Kings that were currently in use.

Soteria SAR was announced as the frontrunning bidder in February 2010, but a year later it was prevented from acquiring the contract due to several issues with the conduct of their bid team, as well as forming part of the coalition government's spending review.

  1. National

Factfile: The Sea King helicopter

The Sea King helicopter has been in service for over four decades, with a distinguished history with the Search and Rescue service as well as other assignments.

  • The Sea King has operated in 10 wars and been involved in 15,000 rescue operations
  • It has saved more lives than any other aircraft
  • It is reportedly Prince William's favourite aircraft


  1. Chris Ship
  2. National

Govt to announce sell-off of Search and Rescue service

The government is set to announce that Britain's Search and Rescue service is to be sold off to an American firm.

Up until now, the operation has been run by the RAF, Navy and Coastguard Agency.

The firm will actually be awarded two contracts, because the service has been separated into two parts operating different types of helicopter.

An announcement is expected just before the stock market opens in the morning.