Strandings on Cramond Island test rescue crew

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RISING numbers of people stranded on Cramond Island helped make South Queensferry the busiest single lifeboat in Scotland.

The lifeboat was called out 70 times, rescuing 118 people in 2009 – a large rise from the 54 call-outs and 75 rescues the previous year.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) had its busiest year on record in Scotland, with 1,121 call-outs. The lifeboat at Dunbar was launched 45 times, while North Berwick was launched 14 times.

The charity has urged walkers to take more care and check tide tables, after more than 80 people had to be rescued from the island, which can be reached by a causeway at low tide.

Hamish Campbell, a spokesman for South Queensferry Lifeboat Station, said: "More people have been holidaying at home because of the recession, so there were a lot more people about than normal. We also had some rough weather throughout the year, which resulted in a lot of call-outs.

"It's important that if you're stuck on the island not to try and wade ashore. The tide sweeps in very quickly, and it is quite dangerous."

Mr Campbell said that the number of call-outs highlighted the need for a new lifeboat station, complete with larger boat and training area. The two-storey building at the historic Hawes Pier has been granted planning permission and work is due to start this year. The more advanced lifeboat could be launched straight into the water, saving precious minutes in an emergency.

Mr Campbell said: "We don't have any training facilities at the moment, so the new station will make a real difference."

Wave Crookes, the RNLI's divisional inspector, added: "2009 was the busiest year on record not just for the RNLI in Scotland but the UK and Ireland as well.

"Lifeboat crews were ready to respond no matter what the emergency. I'd like to thank the public and our volunteers as the charity really couldn't provide this lifesaving service without their continued support.'

The charity is urging people to take part in its fundraising day on Friday, by planning an "SOS" themed event. Events so far include Surf Off Scotland, and Sample Our Scones. For more information visit