New Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat to be named in honour of French-born donor

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers at Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station will this weekend witness the official blessing and naming of their newest ally in helping save lives at sea.

The brave crew members will be joined by special guests for an official ceremony where their new Atlantic 85 lifeboat will be named Renée Sherman.

The lifeboat takes the name of the generous Wiltshire woman who left a gift to the RNLI in her will when she died in 2012. Although Renée spent much of her life in Wiltshire, where she worked as a teacher, she was actually born in France, and was a young woman when the Dunkirk evacuation took place in 1940.

The new lifeboat replaced the station’s old inshore lifeboat, which reached the end of its operational life earlier this year. That lifeboat, named Blue Peter 1, was funded by viewers of the popular children’s television show of the same name, and was the third lifeboat funded by viewers of the programme.

Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station, said Mrs Sherman’s kindness will help save lives at sea for many years to come, and is a lasting legacy to her generosity: ‘Renée was a very cultured lady, with a love of books and literature, and she was interested in the work of various charities. She was always very generous and thought highly of the RNLI.

‘The new lifeboat we’re naming on Saturday was originally going to be named after her husband, Jack Sherman. He was Jewish and lived in Germany, but managed to escape to Britain during the war, which is documented in surviving letters to his family.

‘However, the couple’s dear friend, Peter Lee, persuaded Renée to request the lifeboat be named after herself instead. Peter, who was once a navigator in the Royal Air Force serving in India, was delighted that Renée wanted to leave a legacy to the RNLI. He will officially name the lifeboat on Saturday so we are looking forward to welcoming him to the station.’

Peter Lee said: ‘Renée’s husband was set on donating a lifeboat to the RNLI and when he passed away she wanted to carry on his will of support, hence the donation to the RNLI. Neither of them ever had any experience of the charity, they just really admired the RNLI’s lifesaving work, which speaks volumes about its reputation.

‘I wanted to persuade her to have the lifeboat named after her and I’m pleased that she did it that way. I’ve always been a supporter of the RNLI and I’m looking forward to the naming at Littlehampton. I think the RNLI do a fantastic job, as did Renée and her late husband, and I feel this will be a fitting legacy to her.’

Introduced to the RNLI lifeboat fleet in 2005, the B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat usually operates in shallower water close to shore, among rocks, and – in Littlehampton’s case – as far as 10 miles out to sea from the coast. She is operational in daylight up to force 7 and at night to force 6 winds. Her design allows room for four crew members and a large number of survivors. She is powered by two 115hp engines and has a strong hull and good top speed, and has a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids

The new lifeboat was delivered to Littlehampton lifeboat station on 16 May; unusually she arrived by sea, rather than the more traditional route of being brought on a trailer by road. Several volunteer lifeboat crew members went to greet her in Blue Peter 1 lifeboat, accompanied by Littlehampton RNLI’s other lifeboat, the D class Ray of Hope.

Following crew training and familiarisation, the Renée Sherman operational just four days after her arrival, going into service on 20 May. Since then she has been launched on 21 rescues.

Media opportunity: Media are invited to attend the naming ceremony at Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station, Fishermans Quay, Littlehampton BN17 5BL, this Saturday 10 September at 3pm. Peter Lee and RNLI personnel will be available for interview, and there will be opportunities to take photos and video of the lifeboat carrying out a demonstration. Any media wishing to attend are asked to contact Tim Ash using the contact details below.

RNLI media contacts

• Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.