Volunteer crew members at RNLI lifeboat stations on the Sussex and Hampshire coast had another busy year of rescues in 2012, launching 763 times and rescuing 726 people.

The figures show that despite a year of relatively poor weather and heavy rainfall, it was another busy 12 months of rescues for the volunteers who regularly give up their own time to go to sea to save others.

Annual statistics released by the charity that saves lives today reveal that eight of the counties’ 12 lifeboat stations ranked among the top 15 per cent in terms of the busiest stations across the Institution. Eastbourne, Littlehampton, Brighton, Shoreham, Hastings, Portsmouth, Calshot and Hayling Island all sat within the top 33 busiest stations out of a total 236.

In total there were 763 lifeboat launches in Hampshire and Sussex last year including 96 in Calshot, rescuing 103 people, and 33 in LYmington rescuing 47 people.

Eastbourne in East Sussex was the third busiest coastal lifeboat station within the charity, having launched 107 times and rescuing a total of 92 people.

This equates to the lifeboat and her crew spending a total of 708 hours at sea on service, which represents a massive commitment by everyone associated with the station Hampshire had its fair share of lifeboat activity; Portsmouth was revealed as the fourth busiest coastal lifeboat station of the RNLI.

They launched 105 times, rescued 104 people, and spent a total of 590.4 hours on service at sea.

The statistics prompted a huge vote of thanks from the RNLI’s top brass, to employers, families, and friends of all those volunteer crew members who regularly drop everything to respond to their pager and help save lives at sea.

Andrew Ashton, Regional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said: ‘Not only is the RNLI grateful to our volunteers for all that they do, we’d also like to express our sincere thanks to everyone whose lives are impacted by our crew members when they respond to emergencies.

‘Whether it’s a spouse left holding the baby, a partner woken in the night by a crew member’s pager, an employer who allows their staff member to down tools, or a kind colleague who fills in when their workmate shoots off to the lifeboat station, they all deserve our thanks for helping us help others in distress.’ The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team - made up from lifeboat crew volunteers and staff who undergo additional specialist swift-water rescue training - had its busiest year to date due to the record rainfall in 2012.

Whilst there was fortunately no need for the East region’s team to be deployed to flood-hit areas, team members from Calshot, Eastbourne, Hastings and Portsmouth participated in a floodwater skills training weekend in Wales in September.