Saving lives at sea - Coastguard celebrates 200th anniversary

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken

Coastguards around the country have been marking the 200th anniversary of the service, dedicated to saving lives at sea.

Her Majesty's Coastguard was established on January 15th 1822, originally to combat smuggling.

In the following 200 years it has expanded and involves 3,500 volunteers in 310 teams across the UK, which are supported by ten search and rescue helicopters.

To mark the milestone, two hundred throwlines, part of the standard lifesaving kit, have been cast by coastguards around the country as a symbol of the service's dedication.

HM Coastguard Coastal Operations Area Commander Tom Wright on Southbourne beach, Dorset. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Tom Wright, area commander for South West England, said "We have changed inconceivably from when we were first brought into place and in my time we have changed massively. We have got a lot safer and our rescue capability has improved and we are into technical rescue now. We rely a lot more on technology as far as our communications are concerned, and the new technologies, as far as drones to assist in search and rescue and other unmanned vehicles go, will be key moving forward."

Mr Wright added that volunteers and staff remain the most important element of the Coastguard, who couldn't do what they do without the volunteers who give up their time 24/7 365 days a year.