A SEARCH and Rescue helicopter crew based at Prestwick has marked a major milestone after responding to their 1,500th call - helping to save a child stuck at sea.

HM Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter base have surpassed 1,500 desperate SOS calls since 2016.

Their call to help a child who was spotted adrift in a dinghy off the Ayrshire coast was just another vital rescue in four years of saving lives in the most difficult circumstances, with the team responding to 25 calls per week.

Captain Mark Randall, Captain Roger Stringer, winch operator Dylan Burns and winchman/paramedic Darren Jones were the on-duty crew when the call was received in June.

In 2017 the team saved a 22-year-old male surfer who was found 13 miles off the coast of Campbeltown.

High winds swept Matthew Bryce out to see where he clung on to his board for an astonishing 32 hours before the crew at Prestwick winched him to safety.

In October 2019, they sprung to action to help a woman who fell 100m down a ravine while mountain near Oban.

Her 10-year-old son scrambled to her side and used her phone to raise the alarm. The Prestwick helicopter crew working with Oban Mountain Rescue Team to winch the woman to safety.

The strategic base is one of 10 that are able to respond to incidents throughout the UK.

Capt. Craig Sweeney, Chief Pilot at Prestwick, said: “Ensuring that we deliver a consistently safe and efficient search and rescue service around-the-clock is what drives us. This latest milestone is testament to the dedication of our skilled team, which has been unwavering in increasingly challenging times.

“At Prestwick we can be called to a wide range of taskings – from the southern Highlands of Scotland to the northern Lake District in England, and across Scotland’s central belt, responding to around 25 calls per month.”