Local Member of Parliament for Gosport, Dame Caroline Dinenage, took the opportunity to speak about the hard work of Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) in a debate on the contribution of lifeboat services to search and rescue.
Caroline praised volunteer heroes on their hard work in ensuring the safety of the Solent, in what is one of the busiest waterways on the South Coast.
GAFIRS is a volunteer independent lifeboat station which provides lifeboat cover to the Solent and Portsmouth Harbour. In 2022, they responded to 135 incidents, 8 of which were life-at-risk. The volunteers often cover unsociable hours, with 61 weekend duty call-outs in 2022, and 65 out-of-hours callouts.
Caroline also praised the work of Gosport National Coastguard Institute (NCI) and Lee on the Solent NCI. They are also a voluntary organisation who watch the coastline to flag incidents and ensure the safety of local residents.
Caroline is a supporter of the recently launched National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA), of which GAFIRS is a founding member.
In the debate, Caroline said:
“GAFIRS provides emergency lifeboat cover to the Eastern Solent and Portsmouth Harbour. Those of you that know that area will know that it is an incredibly busy stretch of water. Certainly the busiest on the South Coast, if not the busiest in the UK.”
“GAFIRS provides an absolutely essential service to civilian safety. I simply can’t stress enough the value of them. In 2022, GAFIRS responded to 135 incidents, making it their busiest year in 12 years and their third busiest in the last 29 years.”
“They are quite simply local heroes, and quite simply lives would be lost without them.”
“I would like to take the opportunity to also thank the National Coast watch Organisation, they operate out of Fort Blockhouse and out of Lee on the Solent. They provide eyes along the coast and an invaluable service to local people. I am extraordinarily proud to have them and GAFIRS in my local community, and I would like to put on record my enormous thanks and gratitude.”
The responding Minister, Richard Holden, said:
“During these challenging time, it is important that we continue to support our life saving services and recognise the contribution of search and rescue services across the UK.”
“I’d like to thank our brave volunteers in the independent lifeboats but also the RNLI and HM Coastguard who risk their own lives to save others at sea, and around the coast line. It is in large part due to their skill and dedication that the UK has one of the best water safety records in the world.”