First and lasts at sea rescue display

BEER Regatta’s sea rescue display was marked by firsts and lasts.

Beer Coastguard, Portland Helicopter and Exmouth Lifeboat took part in the display on Wednesday, August 11. Coastguard sector manager for Lyme Bay Pete Pritchard was master of ceremonies. Sidmouth Lifeboat had been scheduled to be there too, but the tractor needed to launch it wouldn’t start, so it couldn’t make it.

Wendy Cummins, Seaton, Beer and District RNLI branch secretary, came over on the relief boat from Exmouth. A coffee morning organised by the branch had paid for the fuel to make the trip. It was Wendy’s first time aboard a lifeboat in 33 years’ service for the RNLI. “That was amazing, they even let me steer” she said. “I got the trip because I’ve been chatting them up for a couple of years.”

For coastguard Phil Bastone it was his last regatta display as he is retiring from the service in October. He played a casualty for the first time, which started with getting winched up from the boat to the helicopter. Of his 45 years’ service he said: “There’s been some bad call-outs and some good ones, and ones we’ve regretted. It’s always good if you get a positive result.”

His fellow “casualty” Terry Newbery, of Southleigh, retired in April, after 30 years’ service, 10 of which were with the Beer crew.

“That was a brilliant experience,” he said. “Such displays are important as it shows how the lifeboat and helicopter work together.”

The sunny evening drew a large crowd to watch the display, which featured a collection for Sidmouth Inshore Rescue Service.

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Beer Coastguard station officer Terry Hoare said the helicopter was the biggest attraction. “We’re lucky every year to have the helicopter, as it could easily be called away at any time,” he said.