DUTY called for the crew of a Wirral lifeboat which launched a rescue mission during the biggest event on the RNLI fundraising calendar.
Lady of Hilbre was one of the stars of a thrilling line-up at the Hoylake and West Kirby Lifeboats' Open Day on a scorching Bank Holiday Monday.
But it had to set out to sea at speed after a call from a yacht suffering engine difficulties. It was towed to safety while coxswain Dave Whiteley broadcast to the crowds on Hoylake Promenade from the lifeboat by a radio link.
Because of the rescue drama, Lady of Hilbre was unable to return to the open day, the largest lifeboat show in Britain, until after the thousands of spectators had gone home.
But Carole Jackson, secretary of the RNLI financial branch organising the event, said she was delighted with how the event had gone.
During the afternoon, she said: 'We did well last year with 25,000 people visiting us and £23,000 raised, but expect to have a turnout of 30,000 today due to the hot weather.'
Besides the RNLI, charities that will benefit from the event include Rotarians, Wallasey Round Table, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Romanian Orphan Appeal and Wirral Ranger Services.
And there was plenty for the crowds to enjoy at the open day, which takes six months to organise and is backed by Wirral Council.
BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Summershill gave a running commentary on the air show displays from a red 1960s double decker bus.
They started with an RAF Sea King search and rescue helicopter, followed by a landing on the beach by 14 microlights from West Lancs Microlight Club.
John North, who led the club's 14 aircraft and is ranked fifth in the world, said, 'This is the best microlight display we've had in Wirral. I fly these aircraft to help charity and last year I flew over 33 states in the USA to raise money for the Clatterbridge Cancer Appeal.'
In the afternoon, North West Fire Brigades' freefall parachutists made a precision descent on to the beach, with team leader Stuart Flint holding the RNLI flag.
The death-defying Utterly Butterly wingwalkers then performed stunts on Boeing Stearman biplanes, while four Russian Yakolev vintage fighter planes gave a stunning aerobatic display.
Modern RAF Harrier and Tornado fighter jets also swooped over the promenade, prompting air co-ordinator Brian May, the HM Coastguard section manager, to exclaim: 'We hope to have the Red Arrows next year!'
Back on the ground, Liverpool funnyman Ken Dodd had plenty of wisecracks to delight the crowds, while Wirral West MP Stephen Hesford was busy selling raffle tickets.
The Mersey Mississippi's Jazz Band added a festive touch with a New Orleans style march past the promenade.
The carnival atmosphere was enhanced by 3rd Wallasey Boys' Brigade, whose Caribbean Steel Band played West Indian kettle drums.