max temp: 11°C

min temp: 2°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Daring abseilers brave dizzying lighthouse heights

09:00 15 August 2011

Actor Bernard Hill ready for the RNLI abseil down Southwold Lighthouse. Photo: Richard Lycett

Actor Bernard Hill ready for the RNLI abseil down Southwold Lighthouse. Photo: Richard Lycett

BRAVE fundraisers rappelled down the face of Southwold’s 31 metre lighthouse in aid of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards.


The sponsored abseil saw dozens of courageous souls patiently waiting their turn to descend the landmark tower yesterday.

Each donated a £25 registration fee and at least £100 in sponsorship for the RNLI, and anyone who didn’t fancy the dizzying drop could enjoy the lifeboat demonstrations, balloon races and sandcastle competitions taking place on the seafront the day before.

Among those who took part in the abseil was locally-based stage and screen actor Bernard Hill, who played Yosser Hughes in The Boys from the Blackstuff. A member of Southwold Sailing Club, his nautical connections also extend to his portrayal of Captain Edward John Smith in Titanic.

Abseilers had to first scale the 92-step circular staircase to the top of the lighthouse, before taking a bold step over the edge of the historic 122-year-old lighthouse which is usually used to guide vessels navigating the coast and approaching Southwold Harbour.

By mid-afternoon the fundraising total had already reached £15,000, boosting the hopes that the event would equal the £24,000 raised by the first lighthouse abseil two years ago.

An intrepid 96 abseilers signed up to take part this year - 16 more than in 2009 - and, despite eight cancellations, the vacant spots were offered up for a £75 donation.

Lifeboat operations manager John Huggins, who came up with the idea for the abseil two years ago, was the first to take the plunge on Sunday. He said: “It all went really well and we hope to achieve our fundraising target.” Mr Huggins added that the station was well up to speed with volunteer recruitment and even had one or two names waiting to step in when required.

A lifeboat was first stationed in Southwold in 1841. Today, there is 18-strong volunteer crew with members from all walks of life - including a businessman, a student, a boat builder, an airline pilot, a taxi driver and a teacher.

It promises to be a busy month for the Southwold team, who are preparing to move along shore for exercises and training while work is carried out to strengthen the north dock wall.

Last month, Southwold’s own relief lifeboat, Duckhams 2001, was called upon just two days after temporarily standing in for Leslie Tranmer, which is in Cowes for a refit and is expected to return in a couple of months.

Duckhams 2001 joined the Tyne Class Spirit of Lowestoft and local fishing boats to demonstrate how the RNLI saves lives at sea during the charity’s annual Lifeboat Day on Saturday.

The RNLI is independent from the government and relies on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income.

The crew’s kit for the Southwold Station alone costs about £1,000 per person.



St Peter and St Mary's Church, Stowmarket, celebrates the opening of its Christmas tree festival. Pictured: Harry and Elena Brown.

The festive season officially arrived in Stowmarket tonight as the town celebrated the launch of its annual Christmas tree festival and lights switch-on.

Exercise is important in the battle against SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD – is a very real yet little understood condition that haunts millions every winter.

Grimwade street fire. Ipswich

Firefighters saved the life of a man when they rescued him from a Ipswich house blaze without wearing breathing apparatus.

Official opening of Chantry Academy. Head boy and girl, left to right, Ligita Lazdauskaite and Joshua Clarke.

Chantry Academy in Ipswich celebrated the grand opening of its new school building on Friday, as the school marks a “fresh start” from a difficult year.

The crash happened in High Street, Newmarket.

A man aged in his early 20s has been taken to hospital after the motorbike he was riding collided with a car in Newmarket.

Stock picture of a burglary.

Offenders forced open the front window in the living room of a property in a Suffolk village during a burglary.

Sergeant Ash Jackobs (31) from Felixstowe during 

Chefs from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade have been wild cooking to prepare for operations in tough environments.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24