The little seaside town I live in is situated in the Bristol Channel, at the mouth of the River Parrett and Bridgwater Bay. It has the second highest tidal range in the world, second only to the Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. When the tide is out it reveals mudflats which are hazardous to shipping and extremely dangerous to any individual who may venture onto them. There are many warning signs right along the beaches but at times these are ignored and anyone out on the mud may find themselves sinking into it. A fast incoming tide obviously puts anyone at extreme risk. Just such a tragedy occurred in June 2002 when a little 5 year old girl, Lelaina, was trapped and no-one was able to reach her in time to save her.
Everyone was horrified and appalled and with the help of a local newspaper fundraising escalated to enable the purchase of a fully equipped rescue Hovercraft which could be used at such times. BARB, the group formed in 1992 to man and run a hovercraft, were already fundraising to purchase the first rescue craft and boathouse. (We have had a lifeboat here since 1866 but of course that is of little use on mud). The tragedy of the loss of little Lelaina made the purchase much more necessary and urgent. So, after a very successful campaign, we now we have a Hovercraft, The Spirit of Lelaina, which was launched in March 2004 and in its first summer went to the rescue of 50 people and has been put to good use ever since. HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex is a patron of a new hovercraft campaign, begun in order to raise £60,000 for a replacement craft.
The above photographs of our rescue Hovercraft are not mine - I have walked along by the Hovercraft Station many times but it is rarely on view, so the picture is from a local site and you can read more about it here, here and, if you are interested in its specification - here.
This is the Hovercraft station - just along the road from where I live.
These hazard signs are everywhere along the beach and esplanade.
We rarely see the hovercraft, only occasionally, when it is out for training purposes, which is fortunate for all concerned.
Thanks to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and her team who host ABC Wednesday. For more takes on the letter H, please click here.
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