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How Kent coastguards have celebrated 200 years of their service


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Coastguards around Kent have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of their organisation.

It was on January 15, 1822, that HM Coastguard was formally brought into existence and it has been working to keep people safe along the coast ever since.

Sheppey Coastguards celebrated 200 years with rope
Sheppey Coastguards celebrated 200 years with rope

From its beginnings with coastal lookouts trying to spot smugglers to today’s hi-tech national network of control centres, it remains dedicated to search, rescue and saving lives.

To celebrate the anniversary, coastguards across the country cast "throwlines" at 11am as a symbol of the service’s past and present.

The ropes are still part of every lifesaving kit used by coastguard teams.

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard, said: “When you look at how we started and where we are now, it’s easy to celebrate the innovation and development that can be seen throughout the service.

"And yet, we are far more proud of the people, the volunteers and the staff who throughout two centuries have continued to strive to keep people safe at the coast and out at sea.

How times have changed during the past 200 years for the Coastguards
How times have changed during the past 200 years for the Coastguards

"We always have, and always will, respond to those in distress.

“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."

She added: "I’m proud of the commitment, the dedication and selfless sacrifice and I’m proud of how the service has developed and continues to do so.”

Back in the 1890s, Victorian coastguards only had a rope to help them scale down cliffs to rescue people cut off by the tide.

Fast forward 130 years and modern coastguards are equipped with everything they need to make a safe and effective recovery from cliffs all around the UK. And they still carry rope.

Sheppey Coastguards celebrated 200 years of the service with a ceremonial 'throwline' over a dummy
Sheppey Coastguards celebrated 200 years of the service with a ceremonial 'throwline' over a dummy

Last year the Sheppey Coastguard had 159 call-outs mainly around the Island and The Swale but they also helped colleagues in Medway, Herne Bay, Folkestone, Dover and Camber Sands.

* If you see an emergency at sea or along the coast, dial 999 and ask for Coastguard

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