RNLI’s unique sea-going memorial rings in the new decade
A bell ringing ceremony took place yesterday (Tuesday 21 January 2020), to celebrate the first RNLI lifeboat to host the names of thousands of loved ones.
Over 9,500 people are being commemorated in a unique and special way, as their names are proudly displayed in the operational letters and numbers (decal), on the hull of the new Launch a Memory boat.
Approximately 200 RNLI staff members and volunteers attended the event at the All-Weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) in Poole, Dorset,
to see the unique Launch a Memory vessel being lowered into the water for the very first time.
A minute’s silence was held just before midday, to remember loved ones whose names had been carefully placed on to the side of the lifeboat and to also pay respect to five crew who perished in the Fraserburgh disaster, 50 years ago to the day.
As per nautical tradition, the bell rang eight times, to signal the ‘end of watch’ on a naval ship and the start of a new watch.
The Agnes A P Barr – the first Launch a Memory lifeboat in the RNLI’s history – will be stationed at Invergordon Lifeboat Station, northern Scotland, once a series of sea trials and tests are complete on the Shannon class boat.
Four crew members from Invergordon Lifeboat Station made the 1276 mile round-trip to attend the ceremony and have a first look at their new lifeboat, which is replacing the Trent class Douglas Aikman Smith.
Andrew Murray, RNLI Coxswain at Invergordon Lifeboat Station, says: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be receiving
Agnes A P Barr later this year – especially as it will have the names of over 9,500 loved ones who are being commemorated in this wonderful way.
‘It’s very humbling to see the special decal on our new Shannon class. The volunteer crew at Invergordon Lifeboat Station feel honoured to receive something which means so much to so many people and will last for years to come.
‘We feel privileged to be able to launch with people’s memories by our side, while helping those in need in all weathers’.
RNLI supporter and fundraiser, Sharon Mason, added the names of two family members to the Launch a Memory lifeboat.
She says: ‘It’s such an amazing feeling that my dad’s and grandad’s names are on a lifeboat, as my dad supported the RNLI all of his life.
‘To be given the opportunity to have his name on the lifeboat and to see it on there is brilliant. My dad loved the sea and I think he would love the idea of being beside the crew when they’re rescuing people at sea.’
The Launch a Memory lifeboat is the first Shannon class to roll off the RNLI’s production line this decade and it is the 37th boat to join the RNLI fleet.
The Agnes A P Barr will be moored at the RNLI Support Centre, Poole, on 22, 23, 29 February and 1 March 2020 for members of the public to view, free of charge. Booking is not necessary.
For more information about Launch a Memory, visit rnli.org.uk/bytheirside.
Agnes A P Barr
The Shannon lifeboat is named Agnes A P Barr in memory of the main donor Agnes Arthur Paton Barr, who left in excess of £1M to the RNLI to fund a lifeboat on the east coast of Scotland.
Mrs Barr was an RNLI member with a long family history of support for the RNLI, having funded numerous projects in Scotland during her lifetime.
She lived in Edinburgh and died in May 2017 at the age of 97.
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.