Official Launch of the new Newport Lifeboat SARA Lifeboat 14 ‘The Maureen Easton’

Posted in Beachley, Donation, Newport on October 7th, 2016 by Be the first to comment

On Saturday 22 October the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) will formally launch its latest lifeboat.
SARA Lifeboat 14 ‘The Maureen Easton’ will be Newport’s first official Lifeboat, declared as such to HM Coastguard and on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The boat will be based at SARA’s Newport operations base, which is located in the Malpas Fire Station, providing the City, its coastal areas and the Lower Usk with state of the art search and rescue facilities.

This new boat has only been made possible through a generous bequest from the estate of the late Mrs Maureen Easton.

It replaces SARA Rescue Boat 14, which will now be retired.  That boat was built in 1997; it served in SARA Beachley and Wyre Forest Stations before coming to Newport.

The Chairman of SARA Beachley and Newport Station, and Commander Area West, Mervyn Fleming, will lead the ceremony, together with the Mayor of Newport and members of Maureen Easton’s family.  The Newport Coxswain Rich Dainty will lead a demonstration of the new boat.

The Ceremony will be held at The Riverfront Theatre, Bristol Packet Wharf, Newport, NP20 1HG, starting at 10.00.  The lifeboat demonstration is scheduled for approximately 11.15.

About Maureen Easton:

Maureen Easton's family & SARA crew visiting the new boa being built. Sept 16

Maureen Easton’s family & SARA crew visiting the new boa being built. Sept 16

Statement from the family:

“Maureen was an amazing lady – a professional scientist, magistrate, school governor, ballroom dancer and a dedicated volunteer in the field of education. Although born in the West Midlands, she loved the sea.  In fact, past generations of our family were fishermen so this desire may be in recognition of the fortitude of earlier Eastons.  Our grandfather and father were Royal Navy Officers during WW1 and WW2 respectively.

Maureen was a sister who cared deeply about people and she said it was a privilege to care for our elderly parents at home.  She would spend many holidays in Weston–Super-Mare and her affection for this area grew stronger.  Maureen was determined to support a local organisation which saved lives at sea.  She was aware of the important role played by SARA as an independent lifeboat organisation assisting people affected by flooding.”

About The Lifeboat:

  • Built by Delta Power Group, at their factory in Stockport
  • Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) with a Fibreglass hull construction
  • Compliant to the Rescue Boat Code of Practice
  • Engine 50hp; Max Speed 30 knots; Crew 2 or 3

SARA 14 The Maureen Easton drawingSARA Lifeboat 14 ‘The Maureen Easton’ has a number of features specifically incorporated into the design to meet SARA’s needs, and provides many advantages over its predecessor boat:Better deck space for casualty working

  • Able to get into shallower water than Rescue 14
  • More suitable for the conditions of the lower Usk, in particular the spine of the hull is Kevlar-reinforced so more durable for beaching (e.g. during mud rescue)
  • Greater towing power
  • Small ‘A’ frame at the stern increases the height of the VHF radio antennas, to improve radio range in an area of the Usk known for its poor communications at low water, when the river runs in a deep trench;
    the ‘A’ frame is collapsible allowing for passage under low bridges at high water
  • Loudhailer for use in rescues
  • Loudspeaker relay for the radios back to the helmsman, for better crew communications
  • Engine includes a PIRs (post immersion restart) system that is designed to allow the engine to be restarted after a capsize.

Great SARA Duck Race Results

Posted in News on August 22nd, 2016 by Be the first to comment

Thank you to everyone who supported out 10th Great SARA duck race.

The winners were duck / ticket numbers:

1st prize = 677

2nd prize = 895

3rd prize = 161

We raised a grand total of £1085.

This will go to the running of our station and keeping our Lifeboats afloat and the vehicles and equipment ready for any emergency we are needed for.

2016-08-13 14.08.31

Night time rescue of a dingy on the Severn Estuary

Posted in Beachley on August 12th, 2016 by Be the first to comment

DATE OF ISSUE: 5 Aug 2016

The need for basic water safety preparations was emphasized on the night of  Wednesday last with a dramatic SARA rescue on the Severn Estuary.  Lifeboat crews were paged to an emergency by UK Coastguard at about 9.30pm: just when many of them were watching a TV documentary about the RNLI.

A small dingy had suffered engine failure close to the Old Ferry Slipway on the Severn Estuary just after dusk, and was drifting out to sea on the falling tide.

SARA’s largest lifeboat “The Jim Hewitt”  call-sign “SARA-1” was launched within 10 minutes of receiving the call.  With near gale-force winds blowing directly against the ebbing tide conditions were hazardous indeed.

The lifeboat crew used powerful search lights in likely locations based upon their knowledge of the areas’ winds and tides.  The dingy was located after about 20 minutes, on the Bristol side of the estuary not far from the M48 Bridge. It was swamped, taking on water and in danger of being capsized throwing the single occupant into the seas.  The SARA crew were astounded to discover that the man had no lifejacket, light or any means of communication.  With the dingy safely in tow, he was taken on board the lifeboat and to the safety of Beachley Lifeboat station.

Mervyn Fleming, Commander at SARA’s Beachley and Newport Lifeboat and Rescue Stations said, “This gentleman is lucky to be alive today… the night was not only dark but with the worst weather conditions  that have been experienced on the estuary for several months. That anyone should have set out into the estuary in a small craft not much larger that a child’s toy: alone, at dusk, without lights, suitable clothing, a mobile phone or even a lifejacket simply beggars belief! The crew of the lifeboat did very well to find him in the dark amongst the waves. The Severn Estuary is not the place to ‘try out’ newly acquired boats: it is one of the most dangerous areas of water in the UK”.

Richard Hoyle from Chepstow Coastguard said “without prompt action from SARA this could have turned into a tragedy.  We advise that all boats carry basic safety equipment, including an anchor and a bailer, and sufficient fuel.”


SARA’s Lifeboat and Rescue Stations at Chepstow and Newport have carried out over thirty rescues so far this year at a cost to the voluntary organisation of approximately £700 per rescue.

A wide range of SARA capabilities tested

Posted in Beachley, Training on July 12th, 2016 by Be the first to comment

A wide range of SARA capabilities were tested on Sunday, starting with a full training exercise in the Lower Wye Valley.  The scenario was that a climber was injured high on ‘Fly Wall’ in Woodcroft Quarry near Tidenham.  All Beachley crew were called out from home and responded in real time.

sara land and boat 1The first crewman was lowered down to the ‘casualty’ (Bob, the station’s full size rescue mannequin) and found a note explaining his injuries.  Having assessed the situation the casualty was ‘picked off’ and lowered to the base of the cliff where he was given first aid by another SARA Team.

Due to the difficult terrain, the SARA lifeboat was launched from Beachley. The casualty was stretchered away from the cliff and carried across the rocks down to the river, transferred to the lifeboat and whisked back to Chepstow – where in real life an ambulance would have been waiting.

sara land and boatStation Commander Mervyn Flemming commented “we have sadly had to undertake rescues such as this in the past, so I was pleased that this went well. SARA is uniquely placed to fulfill this kind of complex task”.

With the exercise over, in the late afternoon the crews were briefly called out for a real cliff rescue, although stood down by the Fire Service before deploying. Further north, SARA crews from Tewkesbury and Wyre Forest were deployed for several hours on a missing person search, in support of West Midlands Police.

The Guardian Article on Independent Lifeboat Teams

Posted in News on July 3rd, 2016 by Be the first to comment

SARA is an Independent Lifeboat Service covering an area that is not covered by the RNLI.

Please take a moment to read the article by the Guardian.

“Mark Carwardine, deputy executive chairman of the Severn Area Rescue Association (Sara) has had similar experiences. He feels frustrated seeing RNLI fundraisers at work in Chepstow, where the local Sara boat is just two miles away and the nearest RNLI craft is 40 miles by road. “It’s not the fundraisers’ fault,” says Carwardine. “But from our perspective it’s a bit like: we’re the local boat, so perhaps there could be some recognition of that.”

Sara is the biggest independent lifeboat service in the UK. It has four stations and more than 150 volunteers covering the dangerous Severn estuary and surrounding area. Started from a garage in 1973, the rescue service quickly expanded to protect inshore areas not covered by the RNLI. Now, with 18 boats as well as mobile response units for mountain rescue, the service has annual running costs of around £200,000.”