A WETTER than average summer meant a quieter year for the region’s lifeboat crews.

Figures released by the RNLI today (Tuesday, January 22) show that lifeboats from the charity’s 33 northern stations were launched a total of 1,024 times and rescued 949 people during 2012.

That is 19 per cent down on the previous year and it is thought the poor summer weather led to fewer people heading to the coast and out onto the water.

Sunderland’s station was the busiest in the North, launching 100 times and rescuing 100 people, while 8,321 launches and 7,912 rescues were carried out nationally.

Dave Cocks of Redcar RNLI said: “There is no doubt that our activity is very much dependent on the weather.

“The busiest year in our history was 2010 because we had a decent summer, 2011 was quieter and 2012 even more so; it has been a relatively routine year for us.

“Having said that, we also hope that maybe some of our safety messages are getting through to people so they don’t need to be rescued.

“The RNLI works hard to get the safety message across and we hope that it is working.”

The 2012 statistics show that 476 lifeboat rescues in the north were to recreational craft, 221 were to people ashore, 152 to people in the water and 84 to fishing and other commercial vessels.

The charity’s Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year on record, deploying 11 times to flooding in England, Wales and Ireland – including once on Teesside.

RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto said: “The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea.

“To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the UK and Ireland.

“And it’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge “thank you” to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.”