A MAN has cycled 263 miles from his Isle of Wight home to New Quay to raise awareness of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign.

Jonathan Baynham has more reason than most to be grateful to the RNLI after being plucked from the sea by a lifeboat crew after getting into trouble off the Ceredigion coast in his younger days.

And after hearing of the RNLI’s plan to replace the all-weather boat at New Quay with an inshore boat, leaving what campaigners say is a 70-mile gap in coverage, he felt he had to do something to highlight the issue.

“My family has always had links with the area. My father is priest in charge of the Anglican church in New Quay and I've been coming to the area for my whole life,” said Jonathon.

“I used to work the summers in the Crown Inn and between shifts I and whoever else fancied it would go down to Tresaith to sail my fireball racing dinghy.

“This one time, the rudder broke clean off and a friend and I were without direction with hard weather coming in fast. We were spotted by people on the cliffs who called it in and the RNLI inshore pulled us out.

“So you might say I've always been in their debt, or at the very least the importance of the RNLI's provision in Cardigan Bay has never been lost on me.”

Jonathon has also worked briefly as a Coastguard rescue officer on Holy Island in Northumberland, where he often responded to incidents alongside the RNLI.

“When I read about the Ceredigion 2020 plans I was instantly astounded at the gaping hole in the operational area and when I had the opportunity to do something to raise awareness I went for it with this bike ride,” he said.

“The ability to rapidly respond to foul weather emergencies at sea is so important. Why on earth the RNLI want to leave a 70-mile, 90-minute drowning gap in the middle of a super-busy stretch of water so popular with both tourists and fishing boats is totally beyond me.

“I guarantee you that length of time is an absolute age if you are in trouble – it’s bonkers.”

“I'm a resident on the Isle of Wight, which has a number of 'independent lifeboats' which are all lovely and wot-not but nothing like the quality and training level and equipment of the RNLI.

“It would be a terrible thing for Cardigan Bay to lose the New Quay all-weather boat provision.”

The RNLI argues the decision to replace the all-weather lifeboat is underpinned by extensive research of records going back to 2008.

In a review, it concluded that services by New Quay all-weather lifeboat could have been carried out safely and effectively by an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, supported by all-weather lifeboats at neighbouring stations if required.

A petition opposing the plan has so far attracted more than 25,000 signatures, both in hard copy form at local businesses and on line. To sign the petition, go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/CeredigionLifeboatCampaign