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PORTSMOUTH’S Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will open the London Boat Show today ahead of a celebration of 60 years of Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue.

The navy’s helicopter search and rescue service celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

To mark the occasion, there will be a number of demonstrations at the London Boat Show over the next week.

The introduction of a Westland Dragonfly helicopter to search and rescue operations in the UK in 1953 opened a new chapter in military aid to those in peril.

Shortly after coming into service, 12 Dragonfly helicopters from the 705 Naval Air Squadron, which was based at the Royal Naval Air Station Gosport, responded to urgent requests for help following major floods in East Anglia and The Netherlands.

In the course of seven hours’ flying, more than 840 people were rescued.

One single pilot accounted for 111 of those rescues, while another carried out 102.

The service has since saved thousands of lives over the last 60 years.