Posted 10 January 2014 by Andrew Gardner
These floods of late have hit some parts of Sussex quite badly. Parts of Shoreham - including the airport - and Newhaven were affected when the Adur burst its banks and tides flowed higher than they had done for many years last month. I thought it rather poignant that around the same time, two of the dedicated Sussex lifeboat crew received long-service awards.
Shoreham's crew's second coxswain Simon Tugwell, who joined at the age of 17 in his father's footsteps, has notched up 30 years while mechanic Keith Stevens, who started out with the Selsey crew, was celebrating 20 years. That's 50 years between them of extraordinary dedication, bravery and selflessness. Mr Tugwell told a local newspaper: "When I started going to sea the lifeboat did 8 knots; now [it] does 25 knots, so our response times are much quicker." Operations that he said he especially remembered include rescuing the yacht Trimley Maid in force nine winds in 1999 and the floods in Lewes and Uckfield a year later.
The hot weather last year led to a surge in calls for help from holidaymakers as crews along the south coast had their busiest summer for six years. Of the eight Sussex lifeboat stations (that's Hastings, Eastbourne, Newhaven, Brighton, Shoreham, Littlehampton, Selsey and Hayling Island) Eastbourne was one of the busiest in the whole country while Newhaven saw its call-outs almost triple. But let's remember these crews go out in all weathers, not just the summer tourist season. And did you know that the first Blue Peter lifeboat - donated after the first of many fundraising efforts by the long-running BBC children's programme - was at Littlehampton? Now there's a modern incarnation that arrived in 2002 rather than the original Blue Peter 1, which was commissioned in 1967, but it's very much in active service.
This time of year is probably more for looking out to sea than venturing out on it, unless you're a dedicated sailor or going on an organised sea-fishing trip, but it's inspiring to reflect on what goes on beyond the shoreline. Welcome to Sussex, and if you're not already snuggled up in a cosy Sussex holiday cottage then please click here to find the perfect holiday accommodation for your next trip.