Mary Beal dedicated to saving lives at sea as RNLI and supporters celebrate
A new lifeboat has been named after former fashion model, sportswomen, farmer and Director of Beal Homes, Mary Beal, at an event celebrating the success of a community appeal to fund the vessel.
The new inshore lifeboat was blessed, dedicated and officially launched during a ceremony following the time-honoured traditions of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and attended by scores of dignitaries, supporters and guests.
The D-Class lifeboat was delivered to the RNLI’s Withernsea Lifeboat Station on the East Yorkshire coast in June and went straight into service.
In just two months it has already responded to more callouts from the station than in the whole of last year and is credited with saving the lives of a mother and child who were blown out to sea in an inflatable dinghy off the Withernsea coast.
Now it has been officially named in honour of Mary Beal, a Director of East Yorkshire-based Beal Homes, keen sailor and RNLI supporter, who sadly passed away in December 2017 after a short illness.
The life-saving vessel was funded by a £52,000 appeal, with the Beal family donating a substantial sum to kick-start the campaign.
Martin Woodhouse, Lifeboat Operations Manager for the Withernsea station, invited Mary Beal’s husband and son, John and Richard, representing all the donors, to hand the lifeboat into the care of the RNLI.
Mr Woodhouse said: “Myself and the volunteer crew here at the station are extremely grateful for the kind and generous donation from the Beal family towards the cost of the new inshore lifeboat and also thankful to all of our other benefactors in helping to raise the funds.
“The crew are delighted with the performance of our new D Class. In the few weeks since the lifeboat has been on station it has already proven itself on a number of callouts and is credited with saving two lives. Her career with us is off to a flying start.”
John Beal said the family’s support for the lifeboat appeal reflected Mary Beal’s love for sailing, which began when the family sailed frequently along the East Yorkshire coast.
“We used to sail down the Holderness coast, which can be very lonely, and the presence of the Withernsea lifeboat was a great reassurance to us,” he said.
“I think Mary would have been very proud of this day. It gives us great pleasure as the Beal family to hand over this lifeboat into the care of the RNLI.”
Adrian Carey, Head of Maritime Delivery for the RNLI, paid tribute to the “dedication, commitment and sacrifice” of the team based at Withernsea Lifeboat Station and said the new vessel would enable them to continue their vital work.
He added: “We are indebted to John and Richard Beal who have so generously helped fund this lifeboat and to all the other people who have so wonderfully contributed to the community appeal. The RNLI simply couldn’t do its life-saving work without people like you.
“The D-Class is an immensely capable lifeboat and a true life-saver in every sense of the term. You and your families are now inextricably linked to this lifeboat, this lifeboat station and the RNLI.”
The event also featured a Service of Dedication led by the Reverend Duncan Harris, a former Royal Navy Padre and Padre of the Hull Sea Cadets. The service was accompanied by music from the Withernsea Ladies Choir and included a poem by 10-year-old Charlie Beal, Mary Beal’s eldest grandson.
Reverend Harris said: “Mary Beal was a lady who knew the sea, who enjoyed being on the sea. She had no fear of it, but she respected it, for the sea is something you have to respect.
“So it is right and proper that this lifeboat is dedicated to her and that she will be part of this station and part of the work that it does to bring help, support and comfort to those who are in peril on the sea.”
Following the service, Withernsea Lifeboat Station Helmsman Darren Hickey invited John and Richard Beal to symbolically name the boat by pouring champagne over her bow.
The formal proceedings were then closed with a vote of thanks by Malcolm Watkinson, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee.
He praised all those who had enabled the appeal target to be reached in just a year, 12 months ahead of target.
“There is no doubt our principal sponsors, the Beal family, kick-started the fund, but there are many others that deserve recognition and many of you are here today,” he said.
“The appeal resonated throughout our community and further afield. It’s humbling to know the depth of the feeling towards the RNLI and how it captures the hearts of young and old alike.”
Following the naming ceremony and service of dedication, the lifeboat was launched into the sea, enabling the Withernsea RNLI crew to provide guests with a thrilling display of the vessel’s capability, speed and agility.
The display also illustrated the skills of the volunteer crew, resulting from their intense, twice-weekly training in all weathers.
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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.