Coastguard celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea

The service now has more than 3,500 volunteers and 10 helicopter bases across the UK.

Coastguard celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea STV News
310 teams across the UK are on call every day of the year

A service is being held in Stornoway to mark 200 years since the Coastguard was formed.

The organisation has been tasked with some of the most challenging rescues to save lives at sea.

Murdo Macaulay, area commander for Western Isles and Lochaber said: “When I think back over the past twenty years, the changes that I have seen in technology and making sure we provide the best support for casualties and communities, that’s quite massive.

“So to think back 200 years ago it is even more massive.”

Those involved in the rescues volunteer their time and often depend on their family and employers to help keep the service running.

William Clark, deputy station officer said: “It can be in the early hours of the morning. We had one at three o’clock in the morning a few days ago and you just up and go.

“Nine times out of ten you wake up everyone in the house and they are usually awake when you come back, so your family is very important to you.”

The Coastguard was formed in January 1822 and was created out of three other services with the main aim to stop smugglers.

Now the service has more than 3,500 volunteers and 310 rescue teams with 10 helicopter bases across the UK.

Director of the Coastguard, Claire Hughes said: “While this milestone is an opportunity for us to look back with pride on what we’ve achieved. We have always looked to the future and I’m proud that we continue to look for ways in which to improve and save lives.”

The technology and techniques have changed over the years but the fundamental of saving lives at sea remains.

Ellen Maclean from Stornoway Coastguard says team work is vital.

She said: “Some of the guys here are strong, some are fast, some are great thinkers, planners and logistics, and everyone brings something to the table.”

“We’ve all got very different skills, the key thing is putting them all together.”

National Chaplain for HM Coastguard, Tom Ebbens said: “One of the commonalities among all our Coastguards is the desire to serve, serve the public and serve the communities they live in and they do so selflessly.”