Rescue call out at charity event

Birling Gap Safety Boat Open Day. April 9th 2012 E15137N'National Trust staff Hannah Riddle (L) and Chris Drake (R) with fossils.
Birling Gap Safety Boat Open Day. April 9th 2012 E15137N'National Trust staff Hannah Riddle (L) and Chris Drake (R) with fossils.

A CHARITY event for rescue services at Birling Gap on Easter Monday turned into a real life drama when coastguards were called into action.

The coastguard helicopter, which was due to take part in a sea rescue display, was also diverted away from the Birling Gap Big Rescue Event when a man was seen to fall from cliffs at nearby Beachy Head.

Coastguards, the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, the Birling Gap Safety Rescue Boat and the RNLI were all at the charity event when emergency services were called.

A member of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team lost sight of someone on the cliff edge at around 1.30pm.

Eastbourne coastguards were called to check the cliffs and found the body of a man on the beach below.

Station manager Stuart McNab said, “Despite extremely high winds, the helicopter was able to lower a winch man and a coastguard to the deceased male casualty who was then recovered into the helicopter.

“The gusting winds prevented the helicopter from landing at the clifftop so the helicopter chose to land in the more sheltered area of Birling Gap from where the assisting coastguard was collected and after the recovery the casualty was transferred into the care of the police.”

The charity event was held to raise awareness of the work carried out by the Birling Gap Safety Boat and money to maintain its operation.

The RNLI and Coastguards had stands and were due to be involved in sea displays and rescue exercises but some had to be cancelled because of the April showers.

The Keep the Beachy Head Lighthouse Stripes campaign group also had a stand raising money to repaint the iconic light tower and other organisations which went along to show their support were Cuckmere Valley Canoe Club. 1066 Falconry displaying birds of prey, the A259 Southcoast Scooter Club and the National Trust which gave a presentation on Birling Gap and smuggling.

l See Wednesday’s Gazette (April 18) for more photos of the charity event.