First ever Christmas call out for Whitby RNLI after red flare spotted

The inshore lifeboat crew made a search of the harbour area. Credit: Whitby RNLI

Whitby RNLI volunteers proved their 'all-year-round' credentials after going on their first ever Christmas Day mission. This came when two lifeboat crews spotted a red flare over the harbour, usually released as a distress signal.

Whitby's youngest volunteer, Andy Brighton, was walking along Church Street when he noticed the flare and quickly alerted the Coastguard just as Coxswain Howard Fields was making the same call across town after seeing the flare from his window.

The Coastguard immediately requested a launch and the inshore lifeboat crew made a search of the harbour area.

Due to the strong winds it was decided that to be absolutely certain that there wasn't a vessel in distress at sea, the all weather lifeboat would also launch and the crews undertook a search outside the pier ends.

After a thorough search the volunteers were stood down and returned to station for a debrief.

The crew have a Christmas debrief after the callout. Credit: Whitby RNLI

Mr Fields, who was on annual leave when he spotted the flare, said: "Thank you to our dedicated volunteers who leave their family celebrations at a moment's notice to save lives at sea, we couldn't do what we do without their commitment.

"If you spot a distress flare you're back on duty in an instant. We think that it had possibly been let off as a celebration rather than in distress, we would like to remind people to only use red flares in an emergency."

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