WIRRAL’S New Brighton Lifeboat station was one of the busiest in the North West last year.
The unpaid volunteers from Wirral launched their rescue craft 66 times, joint equal with those in Fleetwood, according to new national figures.
The busiest in the north of England was Sunderland, which rescued 124 people in 92 launches of rescue boats, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute said.
Andrew Ashton, RNLI Divisional Inspector in the North, praised the Wirral crew, saying: “Saving lives at sea is becoming more and more demanding.
“Traditionally, the RNLI rescued mainly fishing boats and commercial vessels.
“But today the diversity of sea-based leisure activities means our crews must devote an increasing amount of time to training for a wide variety of rescue scenarios, to ensure they can always operate safely and effectively.”
The emergency search and rescue statistics show RNLI lifeboats in the North of England rescued 1,020 people in 2006, launching on average three times every day of the year.
Volunteer lifeboat crews in the RNLI’s North Division were involved in a total of 1,147 launches last year, making it the second-busiest year on record for the charity in the region.
Apart from a traditional rescue boat stationed there, the New Brighton RNLI has also been home to a £135,000 hovercraft since late 2004, and is one of only five in the UK’s RNLI fleet.
It was called out 33 times during the season, making it the busiest in the North West.
Mr Ashton said: “It was another busy year for our lifeboat volunt- eers in the North and I would like to thank them for their commitment, dedic-ation and bravery.
“Not only did they rescue more than 1,000 people, often being called away from home or work, they also gave up huge amounts of their time to take part in vital training.”
Nationally, 2006 was the RNLI’s busiest year ever, with 8,377 launches and 8,015 people rescued.
The figures show 74% of the rescues in the North were carried out by inshore lifeboats, reflecting the continuing rise in people using the sea for leisure activities such as sailing, diving, kite surfing and jet skiing.
The RNLI relies on the support and generosity of the public to fund its lifeboat service.