HM Coastguard Search and Rescue. Although it is our official title, the whole phrase is not one that we hear regularly.

We in Cumbria often hear of mountain rescue, RNLI lifeboats, Cumbria Fire and Rescue, inshore rescue etc.

The majority of publicity for the Coastguard appears in the form of our helicopter services.

There are, in addition, local Coastguard teams based all around the UK, specifically Burgh-by-Sands, Maryport, Whitehaven and Millom in our little patch alone. This equates to dozens of teams incorporating hundreds of personnel across the UK as a whole.

We are all volunteers, who have a passion for helping our communities when and if the need arises.

‘The coast’ covers a narrow strip, and so can be deceptive, but there are cliffs, estuaries, mud, sand (sinking sand), rocks and not forgetting the tides.

Our remit incorporates being able to safely operate near or in the water (sea and river), and be able to confidently assist others who may be in difficulty. We need to be able to safely handle ropes and rigging to effect rescues from beaches, banks and from height during cliff work.

We have specialist mud teams that don specialist mud-rescue equipment to enable us to safely extricate persons - without us adding to the casualty count. Not forgetting that we all are first aid trained.

Should a vessel suffer a breakdown and require the services of the RNLI, we attend to offer advice and assistance, and finally we are increasingly being utilised by Cumbria Police for our search skills when persons are missing.

The equipment required to provide these services is formidable, it all needs to be regularly checked and ensured that it is always ready for immediate deployment.