GAFIRS assist major search in The Solent

Monday, 12 December 2016



A major multi-agency search for possible missing persons in The Solent was launched on Saturday (December 10) after Gosport Independent Lifeboat discovered two illuminated torches floating in the sea.

Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) was paged by UK Coastguard at 6.30am to investigate reports of two torches seen in The Solent, south of Gilkicker, spotted by staff on one of the Isle of Wight car ferries.

GAFIRS carried out a search of the area, just north of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and soon discovered an illuminated torch floating in the water. A few minutes later, while carrying out a parallel line search, a second torch was recovered, floating in a busy shipping lane.

GAFIRS coxswain Brian Pack said: “Finding the two torches was a worry. We carried out an extensive search of the area and after an hour were stood down by the Coastguard and returned to base. 

“However, while we were closing down the station a member of the public arrived having found some personal effects and a flashing lifebuoy beacon on the beach just along from our station on Stokes Bay.”

Following this discovery, the Coastguard tasked GAFIRS to carry out a second shoreline search from Gilkicker to Browndown, edging south towards the central Solent. Lifeboats from Cowes, Bembridge, Portsmouth and Hamble were also mobilised, as was the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, based at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Five Coastguard rescue teams – including Hill Head and Portsmouth – as well as units on the Isle of Wight, assisted with the search on the shore, for the potentially missing persons in the water or a kayaker.

While searching, GAFIRS voluntary lifeboat crew found more personal items floating in the water. After nearly eight hours, and The Solent now saturated with searches from a number of assets, GAFIRS was stood down by the Coastguard at 2pm. 

Mr Pack added: “We carried out a very thorough search coordinated by the Coastguard and while we found the items early on, nothing else was spotted. I would strongly urge anyone with any information about the torches to contact the Coastguard as a matter of urgency.


From 1 January 2017, the RNLI will be the first major charity to move to an opt-in only approach for communicating with its supporters.

The charity will then ‘close the doors’ on its current supporter database, only contacting those who have expressly given permission to be contacted.

The charity’s decision, made in October 2015, to stop communicating directly with supporters without permission, applies to all forms of communication, not just fundraising appeals, and to all methods of contacting supporters. The RNLI will be the first major charity to operate in this way.

The RNLI has the greatest respect for supporters, from volunteer lifeboat crews and community fundraisers, to the public who respond to appeals. The RNLI has decided to strengthen its already strict procedures and has pledged only to contact people who wish to hear from the lifesaving charity.

Nicola Kelly, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager for Northern Ireland explains: ‘From 1 January 2017, we won’t contact any of our current supporters unless they’ve responded to us and opted themselves in. This means we could lose touch with hundreds of thousands of the 900k people we currently contact. I’d urge all those who value what we do to take a moment to “tick the box” online at So far over 400,000 people have reaffirmed their support and done so, which is fantastic’.

One woman rescued by the RNLI earlier this year has shared her story to support the charity’s move to contact only opted-in supporters.

In June Geraldine Donnelly sustained serious injuries when she fell more than two metres onto a rocky beach while walking a dog on a coastal path in County Down.  The lifeboat from Bangor RNLI arrived on scene in Ballyholme Bay where paramedics from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were treating Geraldine.*

Once she was stable and the paramedics were happy that she could be lifted, the decision was made to move her on a stretcher onto the lifeboat, and take her to a nearby jetty where she was transferred to hospital.

During her recovery, Geraldine made a visit to the lifeboat station to thank the volunteers.

‘I had the springer spaniel’s lead wrapped around my hand and he had seen a ball dropping on the beach and he thought he would be a hero and go down after it,’ Geraldine recalled. ‘So he went flying in the air and I went flying after him and then there was nowhere to go but down.’

She said thank-you was just not enough, adding that the speed of all the emergency services that came to her was outstanding.

‘They were looking after me and giving me the best comfort to get me off that beach. The first thing I wanted to do was come and thank the crew personally. I wouldn’t be up right and standing only for the care everyone took that day on rescuing me.’

Nicola Kelly says that sharing the lifesaving stories of the RNLI can in turn save lives.

‘Rescue stories such as Geraldine’s help spread the word about the amazing work our volunteer crews do around Northern Ireland, and help recruit new supporters to the charity. When supporters opt in to the RNLI, it means we won’t lose touch with them and they’ll continue to hear about the rescues we carry out. As they share these stories with friends and family, support for the charity grows – it’s always been this way, and it has never been more important.’

Lloyd’s Register Foundation sponsors Royal Institution’s renowned CHRISTMAS LECTURES

Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the Royal Institution to work together in recognition of more than two centuries of shared heritage and a commitment to inspiring young people with the wonders and applications of science.

The Foundation and the Royal Institution (Ri), have come together to launch a year-long programme of innovative and creative public engagement activities inspired by the world-famous CHRISTMAS LECTURES. Thanks to the Foundation’s generosity, the Ri’s 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES will reach millions of young people, their families and their teachers from across the UK and beyond.

The 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES series ‘Supercharged: Fuelling the Future’, will explore one of humankind’s biggest challenges: how to generate and store energy. It will be presented by Saiful Islam, Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath.

Professor Richard Clegg, Chief Executive of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation said: “The Lloyd’s Register Foundation is proud to be a major supporter of the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES. This year's series is on the subject of energy which is also dear to the heart of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. As a charity, we share complementary aims with the Ri to connect people with the world of science and inspiring the next generation. We’re also a global charity so looking forward to continuing to work with Ri afterwards on taking the lectures abroad and maximising their impact internationally.” 

This year’s series will also celebrate an incredible anniversary for the CHRISTMAS LECTURES as it marks 80 years of television history since they were first broadcast on the BBC in 1936, making the CHRISTMAS LECTURES the world’s oldest science series.

Shared history
The shared history between the two charities stretches back to the founding of the Royal Institution in 1799. John Julius Angerstein was the first known Chairman of the Society for the Registry of Shipping (the precursor to Lloyd’s Register) between 1790–1797, and in 1799 he became one of 58 founding proprietors of the Royal Institution. 

Gail Cardew, Professor of Science, Culture and Society at the Royal Institution, said: “We are delighted that the Lloyd’s Register Foundation have chosen to partner with us as our major supporter for the 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES. Our organisations share a rich heritage: the very first televised lecture by GI Taylor FRS was on shipping and I’ve been amazed to hear that so many people with connections to Lloyd’s Register over the last two centuries were also members of the Ri. More importantly, both organisations share a commitment to inspiring young people about science as well as ensuring the applications of science are used responsibly and safely for the benefit of society. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together through the 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES.” 

The 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES programme supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and a wider community of supporters, will involve three live shows in the Ri’s iconic lecture theatre, a UK television broadcast and will make the Lectures available to an international audience through the Ri Channel and social media activities. The partnership will support thousands of teachers and students up and down the country through education initiatives including the launch of a touring live show for schools and continuing professional development sessions for teachers inspired by the lectures, an online engagement project called ‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here’ and free online teaching resources to help teachers bring the magic of the lectures into the classroom.


 About the Lloyd’s Register Foundation
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation: Connecting science, safety and society
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a UK charity, established in 2012, which funds the advancement of engineering-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life and property. It is funded partly by the profits of its trading arm, Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.

Its vision is to be known worldwide as a leading supporter of engineering-related research, training and education that makes a real difference in improving the safety of the critical infrastructure on which modern society relies. In support of this, it promotes scientific excellence and acts as a catalyst working with others to achieve maximum impact.

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s strategy for 2014-2020 focuses funding on four strategic themes: promoting safety and public understanding of risk; advancing skills and education; supporting excellent scientific research; and accelerating the application of research. Four research themes have been prioritised: structural integrity and systems performance; resilience engineering; human and social factors; and emergent technologies. See more at: 

Celebrating 80 years since the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES were first televised, chemist Professor Saiful Islam from the University of Bath explores one of humankind’s biggest challenges: how to generate and store energy, with guest appearances from Christmas Lecturers past.

In this year’s commemorative series, demonstrations will be inspired by classic television moments from past Lectures which include George Porter’s ‘The Natural History of a Sunbeam’ from 1976, Peter Wothers’s ‘The Modern Alchemist’ from 2012 and Danielle George’s ‘Sparks will fly’ from 2014. Saiful will be joined on stage by a host of very special guests – past Christmas Lecturers.

The 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES are produced by Windfall Films for BBC Four. The three part series will be broadcast on 26, 27 and 28 December at 8pm.

For more information on this year’s series, please visit:

For media enquiries contact

Mark Stokes
Group Communications Director
Lloyd’s Register Group Services Limited
T +44 20 7423 1725
M +44 7825 734991



Lloyd's Register Foundation
71 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4BS, UK
T +44 20 7709 9166

Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a registered charity (Reg. no. 1145988) and limited company (Reg. no. 7905861) registered in England and Wales, and owner of Lloyd’s Register Group Limited. Registered Office: 71 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4BS, United Kingdom