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A naming and a shout: all in day’s work for Calshot’s new lifeboat ‘Max Walls’

About the author

Image of Philly Byrde

Philly Byrde
Press Officer at RNLI London/South East/East.

Start quoteIf Max were here today he would be a very proud and happy manEnd quote

Lifeboats News Release

  • Date:
  • Author: Philly Byrde

Today (Saturday 20 October) the name of a Welsh businessman was given to a lifeboat which will save lives at sea for many years to come, thanks to his generous legacy.

But as some of Calshot RNLI’s volunteer crew put the newly-named Max Walls through her paces for family and friends in front of the boathouse, they were called to assist other emergency services at an incident near Itchen Bridge. Lifeboat crew are ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: the brilliantly prepared celebration tea would have to wait.

They were joined on the shout by the Cowes crew who had arrived in Sheena Louise to help their partners from across the Solent to celebrate the arrival of their new lifeboat. After being stood down from the incident, both lifeboats returned to station.

The new B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat arrived at Calshot in May this year, after a coastal review by the RNLI decided that it was better suited to the rescue needs of the area than the all-weather lifeboat. Fast, manoeuvrable and very reliable, the B class can operate in rough weather conditions. She has room for four crew members and can even be beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to engines or steering gear.

Calshot Lifeboat Operations Manager Ian Weeks said: 'Since coming into service on 12 July this year, the Max Walls has already proved she’s worth her salt in a number of rescues. In August she rescued a man from drowning after he was found in the water with suspected hypothermia.’

Accepting the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI, Philip Gilbert CVO OBE praised the work of the station and its volunteers: ‘Calshot has gone from strength to strength, with a new boat and new technology welcomed.’

As she handed the new lifeboat into the care of the RNLI by Kay Gibson, a close family friend of Max Walls, said: ‘If Max were here today he would be a very proud and happy man.’ The lifeboat was then officially named by Kay’s daughter, Donna Gibson.

The youngest of a very large family from Buckley, North Wales, Maxwell Price Walls left school at the age of 14 and started work as a trainee electrician. He paid for himself to go to night school and qualified as an electrical engineer. In his late twenties he set up his first business on a £200 loan.

By the time he retired in his seventies, he still had many business interests and a large property portfolio. He is remembered fondly by those who knew him as a very quiet, generous and unassuming man, but also a hard nosed businessman who revelled in the cut and thrust of business dealings.

Although he had no direct connection with the RNLI, Max lost two brothers who were in the merchant navy during the Second World War, a loss which deeply affected him for the rest of his life. During his last years when he was very ill, he talked a lot about the money he would leave to the RNLI and the lifeboat that would be built to save lives at sea.

Max passed away peacefully in the April of 2003 with the people he loved around him.


Notes to editors

• For more information on the Atlantic 85 lifeboat see http://rnli.org/aboutus/lifeboatsandstations/lifeboats/Pages/B-class-(Atlantic).aspx

RNLI media contacts

• Philly Byrde, Press Officer (London, east, south east) on 0207 6207425 or 07786 668825, email philly_byrde@rnli.org.uk
• For urgent or out of hours enquiries, please call 01202 336789.

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

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