St Davids RNLI invites supporters to mark 150 years of saving lives at sea

Lifeboats News Release

St Davids RNLI volunteers are extending a warm welcome to their supporters to join them in celebrating a 150 years of saving lives at sea.

Past and present: St Davids RNLI's old and current boathouse

RNLI/Dave James

St Davids: Past and Present

Past, present and future volunteers will come together this Sunday (29 September) at St Davids Cathedral to mark the station’s 150th anniversary. The volunteers will be marking the anniversary by officially naming the station’s new D class lifeboat. The Naming and Dedication of the D class lifeboat will be held at 11am.

The inshore lifeboat has been funded by loyal RNLI supporter Mr Keith Clayton in honour of his late parents, who had long-standing ties with the charity. The D class lifeboat - which will join the volunteers inside St Davids Cathedral - will be officially named Marian and Alan Clayton and accepted into the lifesaving fleet.

Mr Clayton found it fitting to fund a lifeboat in his parent’s honour as they were keen supporters of the RNLI. Members of Mr Clayton’s father’s family were volunteer crew at Penlee Lifeboat Station, previously known as Newlyn Lifeboat Station, during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His mother also had strong RNLI connections, as she was involved with the Welling, Eltham and Sidcup fundraising branch for forty years.

Area Lifesaving Manager Roger Smith said: ‘The RNLI and the crew at St Davids are truly grateful for the generous donation of the new D-Class lifeboat, that is being funded by Keith Clayton in honour of his parents Marian and Alan. Our new D-Class lifeboat will bear their names with pride and will play an absolutely key role in saving lives at sea here in Pembrokeshire.’

Generations of families have volunteered with St Davids RNLI over the years; with the Griffiths, Grey/Arnolds and Chant/Rowlands among a few of the long-serving families who have been volunteering and supporting the station since the late 1890s/1900s.

St Davids RNLI was established in 1869 when a boathouse was built in Porthstinan at the request of the local community. Thirteen volunteer crew were required to operate the station’s first lifeboat - a 32 foot pulling and sailing lifeboat named Augusta. The Augusta served at St Davids lifeboat station until 1885, launching 17 times and saving 23 lives over the course of sixteen years.

The RNLI lifeboats and the lifesaving service has changed immensely in St Davids over the years, as the charity today operates two lifeboats from the boathouse in St Justinians as well as a seasonal lifeguarding service in Whitesands Bay.

Dai John, Coxswain of St Davids RNLI said:

‘Being part of St Davids lifeboat crew is in the blood and a family tradition for a number of our volunteer crew. In the early years the crew were mostly local fishermen; today on average only one in ten RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew have a professional maritime background, that’s why training is so important for the charity.

‘Today, St Davids RNLI volunteers operate a high-tech Tamar class all-weather lifeboat Norah Wortley and the D class inshore lifeboat from the boathouse in St Justinians – the station’s third base since establishing 150 years ago. Last year (2018) St Davids all-weather lifeboat and D class inshore lifeboat launched to 27 service calls. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our local community. As a way of saying thank you, St Davids RNLI would like to extending an invitation to our supporters to join us at the Catherdral this Sunday and help us celebrate a 150 years of saving lives at sea.’

RNLI media contacts

For more information contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07771 941390 or contact the RNLI Press Office 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 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.

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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.