Lifeboats were called out more times in 2008, and more people rescued from the water than in any of the 185 other years since the voluntary service started in 1824.

According to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) a total of 6,509 adults and 1,024 children were rescued, (average 21 per day) and lifeboats were launched 8,182 times from 235 stations.

Biggest increases were from the Tower crew on the Thames with a 52 per cent increase in call-outs over 2007 and at Poole in Dorset with a 38 per cent increase.

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