LIFEBOAT crews in Harwich, West Mersea, Clacton, Walton and Frinton rescued 207 people last year, figures reveal.

In total the stations launched 211 times and clocked up 1,391 hours at sea.

The busiest RNLI station was Harwich which launched 85 times in 2012.

Andrew Ashton, RNLI regional operations manager, said: ‘Despite the poor weather with people tending to visit the coast less our Essex lifeboat stations have had another busy year.

“It’s not just the number of shouts we should acknowledge but the nature of them.

“Volunteer crew have met difficult conditions, distressing scenes and long hours with unwavering dedication.

“These were hours given by crew without a second thought, away from their families, and often thanks to the consideration of local employers who allow them to down tools the moment the pager sounds.”

Nationally, the RNLI was called to 8,321 incidents last year, down 7 per cent.

RNLI stations in Essex bucked the national trend seeing a small rise from 398 incidents in 2011 to 406 last year.

<li> Harwich - 85 launches – 84 people rescued – 666 hours at sea
<li> West Mersea - 56 launches - 66 people rescued - 168 hours at sea
<li> Clacton - 55 launches - 34 people rescued - 242 hours at sea
<li> Walton and Frinton - 15 launches - 23 people rescued - 315 hours at sea