Meet the team keeping the South's coastline safe

Report by ITV News Meridian's Tony Green


They are the team that keep the coastline safe from Brighton all the way to Norfolk.

The HM Coastguard Search and Rescue team have been based at Lydd Airport for the past five years and have just completed their 1000th callout.


The 1000th callout

Captain Andy Pilliner, co-pilot Stijn Roovers and winch paramedic Shawn Clark received a call from the Children’s Acute Transport Service just after midnight on Friday, July 24.

The Lydd crew flew to London to urgently airlift medical staff from Regent’s Park Healthcare to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, where a baby required specialist care.

The helicopter crew then transferred the medical team and baby back to central London, where the baby was safely taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital for further treatment.



The equipment

Two helicopters have been based at Lydd for the last two years.

They cost £20 million each and can travel 150mph in all weathers.

The team can reach any part of the Kent coastline within approximately 15 minutes.

Deputy Chief Pilot, Will Warboys, says it is the equipment on board which makes the helicopters so expensive.

They have an infrared camera which enables the crew to see many miles from various altitudes.

The infrared camera allows the crew to see miles ahead. Credit: ITV News

It has a high powered torch for increased visibility and a dual hoist system which enables the team to pick up people from the sea or cliff face, up to 300ft below.

The helicopters are larger than an air ambulance, meaning they can rescue up to eight people at any one time, including space for two stretchers plus the winch paramedic and winch man.

The crew are called out, on average, around 16 times a month but the nationwide service has just seen its busiest weekend overall.


At the moment coastguard services all around the country are really busy, that's mostly down to the 'staycation' and the great weather.

Deputy Chief Pilot, Will Warboys

The fisherman were found clinging to the hull of the ship after it capsized. Credit: HM Coastguard

The 2018 rescue

The crew were called to rescue four fisherman who were stranded after their boat capsized in the English Channel.

Upon arrival, two of the fisherman were holding onto the hull of the ship awaiting rescue in near-gale force winds back in 2018.

The other two had been picked up by a passing merchant vessel.

The team managed to winch all four crew members to safety.

Despite being very cold and wet, there we no injuries.