The wet weather in 2012 meant a slightly quieter year for RNLI lifeguards in the South West but a busy year for the Flood Rescue Team, according to annual figures released by the charity today.
RNLI lifeguards assisted 11,670 people, down by nearly 2,000 on 2011. RNLI lifeboats across the South West launched 1,507 times, 81 times fewer than in 2011, but the charity's volunteer crews rescued 1,609 people, 38 more than in the previous year.
In keeping with the weather conditions, the RNLI's Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year on record, deploying 11 times across the country. Six of these were in the South West, including rescuing 12 people caught in flood waters at Lostwithiel, Cornwall.
The busiest beach in the South West was Perranporth, where RNLI lifeguards dealt with 615 incidents and assisted 672 people. Second busiest was North Fistral near Newquay where the charity's lifeguard's attended 394 incidents and helped 348 people.
Andy Hurley, RNLI Regional Operations Manager, said: "The figures illustrate just how dedicated our volunteer crews and our lifeguards are, giving a huge amount of time to saving lives at sea and I thank them and their families for their continuing commitment.
"I would also like to thank all those who support our charity because their donations ensure our teams have the best training and equipment. Our fundraising volunteers are as dedicated as always and even now are preparing for the RNLI's annual SOS fundraising day on Friday 25 January.
"Call outs to sailing and power boats with machinery failure are still our core business in the South West, but I'm delighted to say the numbers are down which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go onto the water.
"However, we have seen a rise in the number of fishing boats needing our assistance and in rescues of people ashore, that's folk who are perhaps injured, trapped or cut off by the tide around the sea shore and cliffs.
"Despite the poor weather our RNLI lifeguards have been busy but the figure of 11,670 people assisted is relatively small when you consider that a staggering nine and half million people visited the lifeguarded beaches of the South West last year."