LIFEBOAT crews in Tynemouth and Cullercoats have become some of the first in the country to receive new state-of-the-art lifejackets.
Volunteer Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crews at the eight stations from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Tynemouth have received the jackets two months after the charity launched a fundraising appeal to pay for them.
Incorporating the latest material technology, the new jackets have been designed by the RNLI and manufacturer Crewsaver specifically to meet the charity’s search and rescue requirements.
And they are a far cry from the original cork lifejackets invented in 1854.
Among the first to use the new jackets during a rescue was Tynemouth coxswain Michael Nugent and his crew.
“Our crew members wore the lifejackets for the first time during a recent shout to rescue a drifting trawler 14 miles out to sea,” he said.
“Adjusting them to fit is far easier now and the additional support from the harness takes a lot of the weight off the crew’s neck and shoulders.
“The jackets are lighter, less bulky and easier to work in.
“Lifejackets are essential pieces of kit for all our volunteers and the new design will definitely make a difference to our safety and our comfort.”
Like a number of other lifeboat stations, the Tynemouth crew organised fundraising events to help pay for their jackets, including an evening at Newcastle Centre for Life with Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were held hostage by Somali pirates.
There are two designs of lifejacket, one to be worn on all-weather lifeboats and the other on inshore lifeboats.
The RNLI lifeboat stations on the north east coast which have received their lifejackets are: Berwick-upon-Tweed; Seahouses; Craster; Amble; Newbiggin; Blyth; Cullercoats and Tynemouth.
Visit www.rnli.org.uk/fundraising to make a donation or for more information about how to fundraise for the new RNLI lifejackets.