IT ISN’T every day that Scarborough gets a new lifeboat. Or, indeed, a new lifeboat station.
So for both to be unveiled in the resort on the same day was something of a special occasion.
John Senior, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s lifeboat operations manager, said the event – partly funded by readers of The Yorkshire Post – had been much anticipated.
And it was good news for sailors, fishermen and the like because the new craft – a Shannon class lifeboat – is quicker and can sail further out to sea.
Mr Senior said: “Naturally we’ll miss our current all-weather lifeboat Fanny Victoria Wilkinson and Frank Stubbs, but we’re also excited about receiving a Shannon, whose advanced technology means we’ll be able to reach people a lot more quickly and further off shore.
“The arrival of Scarborough’s Shannon class lifeboat and indeed the new lifeboat house opening has been much anticipated.”
The Shannon was welcomed by a Sea Cadets band and she performed a display in the sea to show her capabilities.
The new vessel was blessed during a short ceremony and the current all-weather lifeboat received a fond farewell accompanied by a lone piper.
He said the good crowd saw ‘a truly historic occasion’ and he was delighted so many people who raised money for the launch and recovery vehicle and offered such ‘phenomenal support’ to the appeal came to see the Shannon arrive.
To add to the sense of occasion, the new craft arrived at 1.15pm – appropriate because her official number is 13.15.
The new lifeboat station at West Pier, Foreshore Road, was open to the public for the event which drew a strong crowd of locals and tourists.
The new £2m lifeboat was funded by donations from the F W Plaxton Charitable Trust and was named the Frederick William Plaxton after the man who founded Plaxton’s coach and bus builder in the town in 1907.
An RNLI fundraising appeal raised £200,000 towards the cost of a bespoke launch and recovery vehicle for the new lifeboat.
The new lifeboat house was needed as the Shannon is larger than Scarborough’s outgoing all-weather Mersey class lifeboat.
The building includes a revamped shop and an exhibition space where those who visit can learn about the history of the lifesaving charity. There are also upgraded volunteer crew facilities with extra space for lifesaving training and an up-to-date drying room for kit.
Scarborough RNLI’s Coxswain Tom Clark, added: “Our volunteer crew can’t wait to start their new chapter of lifesaving with the Shannon and we’ve really enjoyed our recent training ahead of her arrival. The state-of-the-art vessel is 50 per cent faster than our current all-weather lifeboat and this will ensure that those in need are reached even more quickly than before.”
The new Shannon class lifeboat will be officially named during an official ceremony early next spring.
The F W Plaxton Charitable Trust was set up following the death of the Frederic ‘Eric’ Plaxton to ensure that the proceeds of his estate be applied to charitable purposes for the benefit of the inhabitants of Scarborough in memory of his father, Frederick William Plaxton.
The RNLI runs 237 lifeboat stations. The RNLI has 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a flood rescue team, ready to respond when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
• THE Yorkshire Post Christmas Appeal raised £17,000 for the Scarborough RNLI through festive auctions.
The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets and not propellers.
It is capable of 25 knots and was built at the charity’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset.
The total cost of the bespoke launch and recovery vehicle is £1.5m.
Scarborough RNLI’s vehicle has been funded by two separate legacies and £200,000 from an RNLI fundraising appeal.
The Shannon is designed to be mostly launched and recovered from a beach.