Warminster man given the honour of naming new RNLI lifeboat at Littlehampton
A Wiltshire man had the honour of formally naming a new lifeboat for lifesaving charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, on Saturday.
Peter Lee, 93, was invited to name the lifeboat which is on service at Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station on Saturday, as he was close friends with the couple that funded it.
Peter, who hails from Warminster, poured champagne over the lifeboat and officially named her Renée Sherman, in a ceremony attended by friends, volunteer lifeboat crew members, and other members of the local community.
Renée 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, at Atlantic 85 model, was originally going to be named after Renée's husband, Jack Sherman. But, following his death, Peter persuaded Renée to request the lifeboat be named after herself instead.
Peter said: ‘I first met Renée and Jack through the local rotary club in Warminster, and we all became very good friends. My own wife passed away nine years ago and they were really good company. When Jack died Renée and I became even closer and some weeks we would meet for lunch five or six times a week.
‘I am pleased she took my advice and requested the lifeboat be named after her. Even though it was Jack’s wish to leave some money to the RNLI, because she outlived him I felt it was right that she be remembered in that way.’
Peter, who was also executor of the couple’s will, added: ‘It was very nice to be invited to Littlehampton station and a real honour to name the lifeboat. I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s a fitting tribute to my dear friend.’
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 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 went operational just four days after her arrival, going into service on 20 May. Since then she has been launched on 22 rescues at sea.
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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 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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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland