Tobermory lifeboat marriage blessing is a historic first for the RNLI
Volunteer crew member, Rose Skelton and her wife Nomi Stone had their marriage blessed on Tobermory’s Severn class lifeboat on Saturday in what is believed to be the first blessing of a same sex couple to take place on an RNLI lifeboat.
After being piped down Tobermory’s colourful Main Street by the Mull and Iona Pipe Band, Nomi and Rose were met by a guard of honour of members of the lifeboat crew with the traditional RNLI wedding oars at the Cal Mac pier where the lifeboat was berthed alongside. Rose and Nomi both read a poem written by their friend, Daniel Jenkins, called ‘Mull and Iona’. Tobermory RNLI Coxswain David McHaffie then led a short blessing in which he said: ‘In your marriage, may you find joy and laughter in each other when times are easy, and may your marriage be a place of refuge when times are hard.’
The short ceremony concluded with everyone present raising a glass of Tobermory single malt whisky and making a toast ‘to the wives’.
Rose, a freelance writer and journalist, and Nomi, an Assistant Professor of Poetry at the University of Texas at Dallas, were married in November 2018 in Philadelphia. As many of their friends were not able to attend, they decided to celebrate their wedding again with a special lifeboat blessing and a ceilidh on the winter solstice on Mull. Rose has been on the crew since 2015. Her grandfather, John Lewis Leroy, served as volunteer crew on the Dover RNLI lifeboat and his ashes were scattered by Tobermory’s Arun class lifeboat, Anne Lewis Fraser, 20 years ago. For these reasons, Rose and Nomi decided that it would be meaningful to bless their marriage on Tobermory’s Severn class lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey.
Afterwards, Coxswain David McHaffie said: ‘Rose and Nomi are part of our lifeboat family and it was an honour to be part of their marriage blessing today. All of us at the station wish them fair winds and following seas.’
Crew member, Rose said: ‘I had always wanted to be on the lifeboats after I grew up listening to my grandfather’s stories about being on the Dover crew. Joining the Tobermory crew was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’m so happy to see how the station has welcomed Nomi in as part of the family too. Having our marriage blessed here has been really special for both of us.’
There was no rest for the crew, however, with the pagers going off just as the celebrations were getting underway, with Rose herself also running to the lifeboat station. Fortunately, there were more than enough crew and Rose was stood down and able to rejoin Nomi and their families and friends.
Notes to editors
The photographs show Rose and Nomi's blessing in Tobermory, Rose on a training exercise and Rose's grandfather, John Lewis Leroy, on Dover RNLI lifeboat.
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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 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.