A very special guest visits Rye Harbour RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

It was with real pleasure that on Sunday 12 August volunteer staff and crew at the station welcomed Sheila Pigott and her friend Rita to join them during a training session and to inspect the inshore lifeboat Hello Herbie II

Sheila Pigott stands in front of the lifeboat Hello Herbie II

RNLI/KT Bruce

Sheila Pigott and Hello Herbie II

This Atlantic-85 craft, one of the fastest of the RNLI fleet, was acquired for Rye Harbour thanks to the generosity of Sheila and her late husband David. She explained that he was a man with the sea in his veins. Before the Second World War he had wanted to be a naval architect but the national emergency caused him to join the Royal Navy, where his duties saw him serve in the Arctic convoys, and later in motor torpedo boats. His distinguished service was recognised not only by Great Britain but by the presentation to him of a medal by the Russian government at their London embassy; and he made the trip to Moscow for the 50th anniversary of the Arctic convoys.

He always said, apparently, that if he won the lottery he would use the winnings to fund a lifeboat. When he fell seriously ill and was taken into a nursing home for what turned out to be his final two years, Sheila had the inspiration to contact the RNLI about supporting the acquisition of a lifeboat. Crew-members from Rye Harbour visited him at the home and in due course the station was proud to take delivery of the splendid rescue craft in use today which does so much to help save lives at sea.

As may be imagined, Sheila is dear to the hearts of all at Rye Harbour lifeboat station. It is worth remembering that without charitable donations, large and small, there would be no RNLI. Commenting on today's visit she said, 'It's uplifting. I have visited a number of times now and on each occasion I have been struck by the camaraderie displayed by everyone, which is exceptional.'

RNLI Media contacts

· Martin Bruce, Rye Harbour RNLI volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer (07789) 818878 martinthebruce@gmail.com

· Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk

· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org/. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.

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 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 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.

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 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.

Tony Edwards, the Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rye Harbour, giving a hug to Sheila Pigott

RNLI/KT Bruce

Tony Edwards, Lifeboat Operations Manager, and Sheila Pigott
Crew members Sharon Gozna and Tony Peters stand either side of Sheila Pigott

RNLI/KT Bruce

Crew members Sharon Gozna and Tony Peters with Sheila Pigott

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.

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 by email.