RNLI Celebrate 5 years at Portishead
The 24th April is a big day for the RNLI volunteers, but they will be celebrating in the comfort of their own homes.
You may be surprised to know that there has actually been a lifeboat rescue service in Portishead for 24 years. Due to the hard work of a team of people from the community and especially the Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club, the Portishead Lifeboat Trust was formed, its volunteers served the community from Sugar Loaf Beach from October 1996. In April 2015 the RNLI adopted the Trust and the lifesaving rescue service was continued at the brand new state of the art RNLI lifeboat station on the edge of Portishead Marina, at Eastcliffe.
After many weeks of thorough training the volunteer crew were finally ready for operations and hoisted the RNLI flag for the first time on 24th April 2015. The official Opening Ceremony followed on 20th June, which welcomed hundreds of guests and RNLI officials including Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Charles Hunter-Pease OBE and Deputy Lord Lieutenant Reverend Philip Auden who all carried out the official ceremony, alongside the Portishead Lifeboat Operations Manager at the time Bob Crane, Chairman Mike Roberts and Mrs Peggy Gittings, wife of the late John Gittings.
The facilities at the new station are still very much appreciated and looked after by the volunteers. The whole building is heated by ground source heating and the crew even have the luxury of being able to make a cup of tea and go to the loo! Their changing room gives them all their own locker where they store their own kit, personal dry suit and woolie bear (a lovely onesie that goes under their dry suit, this keeps crew warm) luxuries that they were unable to have at the old station.
The large training room, named after the late John Gittings, Chairman of the Trust who played a pivotal role in the adoption process with the RNLI, (the JG room) is used every week by the volunteers. Our education team host many groups of all ages, offering them safety advice around the coast, showing them the work of the RNLI and the facilities we have and of course the lifeboat on station, My Lady Anne.
My Lady Anne, an Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, joined the operational crew on 17th September 2015, replacing the relief lifeboat on station at the time. She was custom built for the crew at the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Centre on the Isle of Wight. She was generously paid for by Mr Bill Wraith, who named her after his late wife. My Lady Anne had her first call out just 2 days after becoming operational and has been busy ever since.
Since the new RNLI lifeboat station has been operational, My Lady Anne and her volunteer crew have responded to 198 call outs. They have assisted 181 people in difficulty and distress, rescued 11 dogs and saved 6 lives, these would have been people who would have undoubtedly perished if the RNLI were not there to rescue them. The crew volunteers train hard and work closely with all the rescue agencies and are able to respond 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
As the coronavirus spread can be fast and devastating the RNLI across the UK and Ireland have been forced to postpone all of their events throughout the summer until restrictions by our Government have been lifted. Our priority is to keep our volunteers safe and well, the health of our crew is paramount to be able to continue our vital lifesaving rescue service. It is a worrying time for their charity as much needed funds which are normally raised, will be lost throughout the summer. If anyone would like to support the RNLI no matter how small you can donate here https://rnli.org/support-us/give-money/donate
Chairman Mike Roberts says ‘Portishead Lifeboat Station is part of the RNLI, but is also part of Portishead. All our volunteers – crew, fundraisers, the shop team and the education team – are all from in or around Portishead. This makes us totally part of the local community and without our relationship with the community it would be so much harder to provide our life saving emergency service. We are really grateful for all the support we receive.
It is currently a difficult time for everyone, which has led to us temporarily closing the shop, our education activities and of course involvement in local activities that are also delayed or cancelled. However, we can assure you that the crew remain ready to respond to emergency calls at any time of the day or night. We wish the whole community well.’
The RNLI want to reassure the public community that although training has stopped at the station, the crew are keeping current with online learning from home and the crew are still responding to call outs during this lockdown period. If you see any one in trouble either on or in the water during your daily exercise, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
However, we are encouraging people to stick to the Government advice and #StayAtHome to save our NHS and our key workers. We are very proud to say that a number of our crew volunteers are also working on the front line with the NHS and in schools, as well as other key roles with their day jobs. A BIG thank you to them.
If you are interested in coming to visit us once the restrictions are lifted please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our admin team will pass on your email to the relevant volunteer to arrange this for you. We are not sure when this will be so please bear with us.
If anyone would like to support the RNLI no matter how small you can donate here https://rnli.org/support-us/give-money/donate Just saving your 5p’s for our little pots would be amazing, they will be available at our RNLI Shop at the Station once we re-open. Thank you so much for your support it will go directly to help us to #SaveLivesAtSeaRNLI notes to editors
Images are ©RNLI Portishead unless stated:
1 - Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence KCVO CB ADC, at the official Opening ceremony in June 2015 ©NicholasLeach
2 - State of the art RNLI Portishead lifeboat station
3 – Portishead Lifeboat Trust station at Sugar Loaf Beach
4 – Portishead Lifeboat Trust changing facilities
5 – My Lady Anne, Atlantic 85 class lifeboat now based at Portishead ©NicholasLeach
6 – Denbar Sage lifeboat based at Sugar Loaf Beach ©MikeLindsay
7 – Mrs Peggy Gittings officially opening the new RNLI lifeboat Station 20th June 2015.
8 – 5p pots will be available once the lockdown is lifted.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Helen Lazenby, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07800 595995 or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
For more information on the RNLI please visit www.rnli.org.uk. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre www.rnli.org.uk/press
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 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 200 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. 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 in excess of 140,000 lives.
A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland
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.