A sad farewell to a valiant servant 47-023 ‘City of Sheffield’ - Poole Lifeboat
Grey sullen skies reflected the mood of the crowd that gathered on the Quayside by Poole Lifeboat Station, all united, each with their own personal reasons for turning out and being part of the stations historic day, as Poole Lifeboat Station officially became an inshore lifeboat station.
With the departure of ON1131, RNLB City of Sheffield, the crews gathered for one last photograph and looked back at the well-wishers glimpsing at the back of the crowd a fire engine that had brought the ‘Watch’ down whom had worked alongside the volunteers on numerous occasions when the Tyne had responded to a vessel on fire.
The moving occasion began with a few poignant words of commemoration and gratitude, led by the Poole Lifeboat Chaplain Lucy Holt, acknowledging the service that the boat had given, followed by a blessing and the Lifeboat prayer.
The rain came down, softening the tears; the ‘Poole Borough Band’ played ‘Eternal Father’ then the Lifeboat crew in their RNLI Guernsey’s stepped aboard the boat signalling its departure.
On the water, a myriad of vessels had braved the weather and had begun to muster, as Coxswain Jonathan Clark, took the wheel for the last time, alongside 2nd Coxswain Andy Elton, and volunteers Anne Millman, Gavin McGuinness, Oli Mallinson, former full time station Mechanic Paul Taylor and Mechanic Wayne Belcher and Deputy Coxswains Glen Mallen and Dave Riley, with over an incredible 165 years of selfless volunteering between them. The boat was let go by Carole Brown the Station Treasurer and the Chaplain Lucy Holt whilst the RNLI standard was slowly lowered in reverence.
The City of Sheffield, saluted the crowd and a rousing three cheers for ‘Poole Lifeboat’ reverberated across the water, as she slipped off her mooring at the station where she arrived some 15 years ago, the iconic engines rumbled for the last time.
As she headed along the quay, the crew waved to the bystanders and the boats horns tooted, she paused for a moment and gave ‘a nod’ to the Old Lifeboat station at Fishermans dock, as the rowers on the Harry Paye Gig raised their oars in respect, a gesture that rippled throughout the following flotilla.
As the Lifeboat made its way down the main channel, a splash of vibrant orange, defiant against the grey skies, followed by the ‘string’ of vessels that truly represented the people that the boat had served and worked alongside : including Jet skiers, Greenslade pleasure boat carrying the fundraisers, families and even some people that the lifeboat had rescued, Jenkins tug, the Harry Paye rowing gig, Port of Poole vessels, MVC volunteers, Police rib, the Green Island Holiday boat, St Elin, and other Motor boats , to the lone fisherman in yellows at the helm of his Poole Canoe.
As they passed through the harbour, the launch from Lilliput sailing club stood by along with passing vessels, waving farewell and there was a message of grateful thanks, from a fishing boat ‘thank you for being our guardian’ sent over the radio.
As the lifeboat approached the entrance of the harbour; the flotilla stopped as above the coastguard helicopter appeared from the clouds, the winch man waving down to the lifeboat crew, it was not that long ago the crews were working in earnest, together off Boscombe Pier searching for and recovering a person from the water.
And there she was in her element, rolling seas and the backdrop of ‘white horses’ crashing over the Hook Sands, her finale, 47-023 ‘City of Sheffield’ with the volunteers with heavy hearts, knowing that this was the last time heading out of the Swash Channel, pass the bar Buoy , the Tyne looked resplendent , with its flags flying and you could sense her looking back and calling on the wind; ‘Over to you’, Poole inshore lifeboat B-826 and Inshore boat D-798, carry on the legacy, bring them home safely.
Poole lifeboat volunteer Anne-Marie Clark said;
‘It was an emotional weekend, where some wonderful memories have been created and a lot of shared affection felt. Greenslades so generously gave the use of their vessel for free, to enable our friends and lifeboat family to be a part of the flotilla and then they raised £127 for the station. Our German modelboat builder Christian Kosiol, who was here on the day when the Tyne arrived, came all the way from Hanover to be with us. We had a warm welcome in Weymouth with our fellow lifeboat crew, the bond is strong, and then on the quay on Sunday after we had laid the wreath in Poole Bay, more tears as the crowd applauded as we left the quay for the final time. There is no denying that there is a huge void on the quayside and for the volunteers that have stepped down or changed roles, but we can take heart that we gave her the fitting send-off she richly deserved and we will all have the mutual memories to share and reminisce, it was an incredibly powerful weekend which we as a station will never forget, as we all move forward to next chapter’.
For more information contact Anne-Marie Clark 07887 855073 or Amy Caldwell RNLI Public Relations Manager on 07920818807 or email email@example.com
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.