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Why lifeboat fund day was all at sea.

Byline: By Chloe Griffiths

Lifeboat volunteers were forced to halt fundraising efforts yesterday to rescue a brother and sister whose dinghy was dangerously drifting out to sea.

The emergency off the Northumberland coast prompted a warning for people to take greater care by the sea over summer.

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea lifeboat official Richard Martin said: "Everyone wants to enjoy the summer weather and the sea, but no-one wants a body to be brought back."

The warning came after the brother and sister, aged 11 and 13, from Wallsend had to be rescued by the Newbiggin lifeboat after a strong offshore wind blew them away from safety in the Cambois Bay area between Newbiggin and Blyth.

Volunteers from the station had been preparing for their annual gala fundraising day but were forced to drop everything to go to their aid after someone from the shore noticed them drifting dangerously far out in a small inflatable.

The volunteers, who were all on the waterfront preparing for the day, immediately manned the CSMA 75th anniversary lifeboat and set off at full speed to begin a search of the area for the youngsters.

The pair, who had been playing near the Sandy Bay caravan park, were spotted within minutes and brought to the boat to be taken back to shore.

Mr Martin said the rescue highlighted not only the importance of yesterday's fundraising effort ( during which they hoped to raise up to pounds 4,000 ( but also the importance of listening to safety advice.

He said: "This really shows how dangerous inflatables can be.

"Over the years toys like this one have caused many a tragedy. Fortunately in this situation it was a happy ending, but there have been several occasions when something like this has ended in tragedy. We all want to enjoy the summer weather, but I would hate to see it blighted by someone dying in an incident like this."

These were sentiments echoed by the coastguard who urged parents and guardians to take heed of the advice of the SeaSmart campaign, launched nationally in a bid to prevent fatalities around the country's coasts during the summer months.

Mr Martin added that yesterday's rescue added some drama to the gala day ( giving early visitors the opportunity to watch a call out for real.

He said: "We had demonstrations planned for the day, but those people who had come down early got to see it all happen for real.

"I guess it was a bit of real drama and excitement ( fortunately it all ended happily."

* ANYONE wanting more information on staying safe by the sea should visit www.mcga.gov.uk
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2006
Words:437
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