Last year proved another busy one for Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat as it embarked on 41 call-outs, spending 51 hours at sea and saving five lives in the process.
And the voluntary crew members were just as busy on land, taking part in a host of awareness and fundraising events.
It has just held its sixth annual Loony Dook to welcome in the New Year, with around 100 people taking part in a chilly dip in the River Forth, raising £645 for the lifeboat.
The volunteer crew is on call round the clock, and continued to be ready throughout the festive period.
Kinghorn Lifeboat covers much of the Firth of Forth, with incidents from Largo to Aberlady and westwards to the Forth Bridges.
Alan McIlravie, lifeboat operations manager, said: “All of the operational crew and our fundraising team have worked very hard again to fund and maintain our 24/7 service. We have had several notable call-outs this year, including working with the new UK Coastguard helicopter.
“The year started on a high with the rescue of two casualties who had been blown offshore from Portobello on their paddle boards, and were located over four miles from their start point.
“Along with colleagues from Queensferry lifeboat and a Royal Navy helicopter, the pair were located and flown to hospital.
“This call-out resonated with the RNLI’s campaign Respect the Water, which was launched in 2015 with the aim of reducing coastal drowning by half by 2024, the 200th anniversary of the RNLI.
“Research shows that many people who end up in the water had no intention of getting into, or on, the water, but were caught out by factors such as weather and wave conditions.
“This situation was clearly illustrated in May when the lifeboat was asked to search for a small inflatable boat near Inchkeith. The vessel had set off from Pettycur for a day trip to the island, but on the return leg the wind increased and the boat was pushed eastwards into more open water.
“Fortunately, the two men on board, who were not wearing lifejackets, stayed in the boat and we found them two miles east of Inchkeith.”
All of these rescues would not be possible without a large amount of training, and during 2016 the crew participated in regular sessions both at sea and on land, gaining national seamanship and navigation certificates, as well as working with flank stations at Anstruther, North Berwick, and Queensferry, and RNLI beach lifeguards.
They trained with the new UK Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick in February, and put this training into practice three times.
Long service awards were made to crew members Keith Hay and Scott McIlravie, who between them notched up 50 years of service in 2016. Keith received recognition for 30 years and Scott for 20 years of service.
Fundraising continues to be an extremely important component when it comes to planning the Kinghorn Lifeboat’s annual calendar, with many events lined up throughout the course of the year.
Last year, the Coastal Challenge sponsored walk from Leven to Kinghorn was successfully launched in May, and the Kinghorn Santa Run in November.
Sheona Smith, fundraising chairman, said: “Our events have been extremely well supported, and we hope that this variety keeps the events fresh and entertaining. We held our popular Christmas Shopping Evening at the Kingswood Hotel after a break of a year, and this was met with renewed enthusiasm from volunteers and supporters alike. We were delighted with the number of people who came along to our inaugural Mayday Coastal Challenge. Mayday is the RNLI’s welly-themed flagship community fundraising campaign and we are currently working on a new route for the next walk to be held on May 6.
“Our ever-popular open day will be held on July 22 and we look forward to welcoming our supporters along to Kinghorn to see the station and meet the volunteers.
“Crew members organised Kinghorn’s first Santa Run in November, and it was great to see so many families coming along to take part.
“This followed the success of our second Big Fish Supper event which sold out three weeks ahead!
“Thank you seems an inadequate way of expressing our gratitude, but thank you from the bottom of our yellow wellies which supports the service and allows us to provide the level of emergency cover required for this area.”
From now the RNLI will change the way it contacts supporters and it will only interact with supporters who have ‘opted-in’ to receive updates.
They can also choose how to be contacted – whether by post, email, phone, or all three, and can do so by visiting: rnli.org/savelives.
Have you ever thought about becoming a member of the Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat crew?
Anyone who lives in Kinghorn and is physically fit, is urged to come along and find out more about volunteering with the RNLI.
There are many roles within the Kinghorn team both on land and at sea, and experience is not necessary as first class training is provided.
Information sessions and come and try events will be held in the coming months, so watch out for adverts or get in touch through the website www.kinghorn.org.uk.
Mr McIlravie said: “Volunteering with the RNLI is a hugely rewarding hobby and there is a huge amount of camaraderie within our group which has members aged from 18 to 88. I would urge people to get involved.”