Hundreds celebrate opening of Swanage RNLI’s new state-of-the-art facilities
Hundreds of guests turned out at Swanage Lifeboat Station on Saturday morning (29 April) to celebrate the official naming of the town’s Shannon class lifeboat George Thomas Lacy.
It was celebration all round as the event also marked the opening of the new lifeboat station and the huge achievement by the local community raising an amazing £465,000 towards the project.
Crowds welcomed the Shannon class lifeboat to the town in April 2016. The vessel has been funded by several group and individual donations and legacies, the largest from Mr George Lacy. Mr Lacy, from Dorset, passed away at the age of 94 and it was his wish that on his death, a generous portion of his estate should go to the RNLI to be used along the Dorset coast.
In preparation for the Shannon class lifeboat, the Swanage lifeboat station had to be rebuilt to accommodate the new vessel. The new building houses state-of-the-art facilities for crew, as well as facilities for training, maintenance, community education and visitor engagement.
The ceremony began at 11am with Peter Foster, Chair of Swanage Lifeboat Management Group, welcoming guests. He said:
‘Benefactors like those of Mr Lacy are very important to the longevity of the RNLI enabling them to save lives at sea with the demand increasing year on year. Many of you here today give your time as volunteers, which accounts for 95% of the total of people involved with the lifeboats. Without you and the fantastic fundraising efforts and amounts you raise the RNLI would not exist.
‘Our magnificent fundraising efforts here in Swanage, with the help of our local branches, raised £465,000 towards the cost of the new station for which on behalf of all the volunteers at the station I am truly thankful.’
Mr John Whybrow, RNLI National Council Member and patron of Swanage Lifeboat Station Appeal, then officially opened the boathouse and handed over the Shannon into the care of Swanage RNLI. He said:
‘This station really is state of the art. It is the first boathouse and slipway to be designed specifically for the new Shannon range of life boat. The boathouse has excellent accommodation for the crew but also houses the inshore D class lifeboat, Phyl & Jack, which was first brought on service in 2012.
‘This is a lifeboat station which all involved can be proud of. It has been made a reality because of the generosity our supporters, donors, fundraisers and station volunteers - and also our neighbours who have shown patience and understanding during the period of construction. I would like to congratulate and thank everyone involved. It is your kindness, and for some your courage, which makes a difference to so many people.’
A service of dedication was then conducted by the Reverend Tony Higgins, before Heather Booy, Mr Lacy’s relative, officially named the lifeboat. The lifeboat was then launched to illustrate her capabilities to the watching crowd.
Refreshments followed in the angling club for invited guests.
Mr Foster added: ‘Today has been an illustration of the RNLI community spirit and an opportunity for us to truly celebrate all we have achieved here at Swanage RNLI, surrounded by all those people who have supported us.’RNLI media contacts
For more information contact Amy Caldwell, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07920 818807 or firstname.lastname@example.org or 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, in a normal year, 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.