Chris Rundle from Minehead RNLI discusses a busy year for the crew, and one in which they gained national exposure after featuring in the BBC's Saving Lives At Sea series.

The past year has seen our volunteer crews carrying out a record number of rescue missions - 44 at the time of writing – involving casualties from Hinkley Point to Lynmouth.

Beautiful it may be but the West Somerset and North Devon coastline can also be perilous: We have just launched a local safety campaign to highlight the risks of being carried away or trapped by the tide in an area with the second highest tidal range in the world.

Many readers will have seen our crew in action in the BBC’s outstanding Saving Lives at Sea series, which has raised the RNLI’s profile significantly.

We believe it was one factor behind the success of our autumn recruitment drive which saw five volunteers coming forward to join the team and start their training.

Two of them are women: once they are qualified we shall have five female crew members, one of the highest proportions of any station in the country.

In 2018 we are hoping for an early start to an exciting development to remodel our 115-year old station, partly to provide our first-ever changing rooms but mainly to further improve our already impressive launch time. Currently it averages seven minutes from the crew being paged, but when we are dealing with incidents more than 10 miles away a single second saved on the launch can literally make a life-or-death difference.

The project is fully planned and funded. Now we need West Somerset Council to sell us a small strip of its adjoining land.

We have been promised a decision in the New Year but cannot stress strongly enough that – particularly as the station is becoming busier - this is a matter upon which lives may, literally, depend.

Elsewhere landowners have donated land for new boathouses or extensions to recognise the invaluable service the RNLI provides. With council finances under pressure that is, perhaps, too much to hope for. A prompt decision which obviates any further delays to a long-overdue project, on the other hand, isn’t.