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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 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 Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 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.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland