The Chieftain returns!

Lifeboats News Release

Barmouth RNLI received a very welcome gift on Wednesday evening, the 29 June, when Tom Hughes presented his model of the RNLB ‘The Chieftain’ to the Barmouth Lifeboat Station.

Local man Tom grew up on the quay and spent his childhood ‘messing about in boats’.  An ex-fireman himself, Tom has the highest respect for the rescue services and continues to take a keen interest in Barmouth RNLI. The Chieftain was a familiar sight to him in his youth as she launched down the slipway into the harbour.

Tom is well known locally for his artistic talents and exhibits and sells his watercolours and pastels at the annual Mawddach Artists’ Group exhibition, but few knew of his model boatbuilding skills until this evening. The boat was built ‘from scratch’ using reclaimed materials, and Tom succeeded in making an accurate and very realistic replica of this memorable boat.

The Chieftain, a 35’6” non-self-righting Liverpool Class boat, served in Barmouth from March 1949 until 1982, during which time she saved 132 lives.  Possibly Barmouth’s most iconic boat, The Chieftain is the one lifeboat that everyone remembers, and she is still very much alive.  Now owned by Tony Gatt and moored in Bristol she has been beautifully restored to her original condition.  And she has recently become something of a celebrity, taking part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012.During the evening, crew members past and present recalled their memories of this special boat.  

Coxswain Peter Davies said ‘On behalf of the station, I would like to thank Tom for his skill, patience and the many hours he has spent on lovingly producing this model of The Chieftain, a boat that will always be very important to us in Barmouth.  It will take pride of place in our station gallery.


Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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