PUPILS from a Leigh school enjoyed touring Southend lifeboat station.

A chance to try on lifeboat crew gear was a highlight of the trip for reception year pupils from St Michael’s C of E School.

RNLI volunteer and former crew member Richard Ireland showed the youngsters all the features of the fully-equipped RIB Atlantic 75 and explained its launch procedure from the boathouse.

Southend RNLI, based at the end of Southend pier, has three boats and a hovercraft.

Richard told the pupils: “You are our potential future lifeboat crews. We have 42 crew and four are female. We need even more girls in our crews.

“Our rescues include windsurfers who have got stuck on the mud, swimmers and ships’ crews who in an emergency need hospitalisation.

“Southend is the busiest station in Britain. We cover an area between the River Crouch and Canvey. We’ve answered 130 calls already this year.

“We are proud that the RNLI is held up for its excellence the world over. Coastguards from Canada and Australia visit Southend RNLI; it is seen as a yardstick.”

Reception teacher Kate Perry said: “The pupils have been learning a great deal about boats at school. This educational trip was great because it provided an awareness of the service the RNLI provides. It is something we should all be very proud of.”

St Michael’s is fundraising for the Southend boathouse and is on target to raise £5,000 this summer.