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Cornwall Marine Directory

Rescue ?Eye? set to boost Bude firm

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main_gecko_helmetA marine camera providing a lifeboat volunteer’s eye view of incidents at sea – as seen by millions of TV viewers in the “Seaside Rescue” and “Lifeboat” TV series – is set to provide another big boost for an innovative Bude company.

Gecko Head Gear, born of a surfer’s desire to prevent “ice cream headaches” 14 years ago, has been working closely with the RNLI to develop the helmet-mounted camera used in its latest system that is now being launched onto the open market.

The company anticipates strong demand for the product following a recent sales trip to Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, and in the wake of attendance at a series of trade shows last year with the financial support of Cornwall Marine Network. 

The new system, as yet unnamed and designed by Gecko for manufacture by EV Technologies, of Norfolk, involves a camera that is fitted into a helmet for video and audio recording.

The results can provide an invaluable record of rescues and give the public a real understanding of the work of the RNLI and other emergency services. When used by other authorities such as Fishery Protection officers, it can provide vital evidence in disputed situations.

“We have already had a great deal of interest in the new product from the likes of the RNLI and police forces,” says Gecko managing director Jeff Sacree.

“We are very confident that it will quickly come to be widely accepted as a radical new concept within marine rescue and other operations at sea. It also has a variety of uses with extreme waterbased sports.

“Many of the close-up action scenes in ‘Seaside Rescue’ used video from the camera mounted in the lifeboat volunteer or lifeguard's helmet.”

Eleanor Driscoll, RNLI Film and Image Manager explained that volunteer lifeboat crews have been wearing the Gecko helmets for many years on RNLI lifeboats; they are comfortable and provide the high level of protection that the charity requires for its volunteers, no matter what conditions they face at sea.

“The new head cam has provided a real insight into the work of our lifeboat volunteers and lifeguards through TV series such as ‘Seaside Rescue’ and ‘Lifeboat’. At last people can really see the work our lifesavers do through their eyes, which in turn encourages people to support our charity and allows us to continue saving lives at sea."

Cornwall Marine Network marketing manager Tim Bowerbank commented: “We are delighted to have been able to work closely with Gecko Head Gear and to support them in reaching this latest exciting new phase of their development.

“This company has been all about innovation from the word go and they are another outstanding reminder that Cornwall’s marine sector is truly world class.”

Jeff Sacree founded Gecko Head Gear in 1993 as a specialist in hand-made helmets designed for niche sport markets and marine safety organisations.

A year later he developed a lightweight heat retaining helmet for himself to prevent “ice cream headaches”, a phenomenon of surfing in cold water akin to a vice being applied to the temples, caused by cold water surfing in North Cornwall’s winter waves.

With Jeff working with the RNLI as early as 1995, various other products followed, including the MK5 Marine Safety helmet three years later, creating the first Marine Safety Standard in Europe and the benchmark for others to follow.

Subsequent models came with weight reduction and improved comfort, with new customers including the UK Ministry of Defence and the Australian Navy.

In 2003 the MK10 was introduced after eight years’ research and development, setting a standard that remains the only approved Marine Safety helmet available.

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