Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat:
Our Story

Pett Level Independent Rescue boat was founded in 1979 to support the local angling community in the Pett Level area of East Sussex – a stretch of shoreline which wasn’t directly supported by national lifeboat cover. This essential facility formally became the Pett Level Rescue Boat Association (subsequently the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat Association – PLIRB) in 1971 with charity status awarded in the 1980s.

What started with humble beginnings to support the fishing club soon grew to a flourishing group of volunteers, through dedicated fundraising and a determination to ensure local waters had much needed support services.

50 years later, PLIRB is a thriving independent lifeboat working in close co-operation with HM Coastguard, the RNLI and other emergency and rescue services.

Like other independent lifeboats, PLIRB receives no funding and depends solely on public donations, grants and sponsorship to keep the facility open and train crew. PLIRB is active in the local community, attending local events and organising their own to raise the funds to keep us going.

The local shoreline has many hazards, and PLIRB is tasked by UK Coastguards on a wide range of issues. The most common tasks can involve:

  • Walkers cut off by tides under the cliffs against treacherous rocks;
  • Pleasure craft in difficulty that require towing or emergency support;
  • Searching for missing persons, often children, on the very busy beaches;
  • Conducting searches at sea for missing craft;
  • Assisting searches for vulnerable people along the coastline;
  • Providing first aid to visitors to the beach who have slips and falls on the rocks.

Historically, PLIRB has assisted in rescue operations for crashed aircraft and other major incidences. And like so many lifeboats, it’s not all about what happens at sea. In 2001, PLIRB provided assistance to Robertsbridge during severe flooding, and featured in the BBC Programme “Coast”. Very often the team is called to assist with local issues – from clearing fallen trees during a storm to supporting other local charities with first aid and practical services.

What is so crucial is that PLIRB has excellent relationships with local emergency teams – from Coastguards, police, first responders and Border Force – being able to work as a unified team in an emergency situation is critical.

As a rescue service in a small community, each and every person is crucial. The team train, learn and serve the local community. Their fundraising, beach and administrative volunteers are as valuable as the boat crew. PLIRB is enormously grateful for the respect, support and dedication they receive from the local community and are proud to be completely independent.