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RNLI Rye Harbour remembers a good friend and generous donor

Lifeboats News Release

With sadness we record the death of one of our most generous donors at RNLI Rye Harbour, Sheila Pigott.


Sheila Pigott with her family at RNLI Rye Harbour

Sheila and her late husband David made a considerable donation towards the funding of our new lifeboat. This Atlantic-85 craft is one of the fastest of the RNLI fleet. David was a man with the sea in his veins. Before the Second World War he had wanted to be a naval architect but the national emergency had caused him to join the Royal Navy, where his duties saw him serve in the Arctic convoys, and later in motor torpedo boats. His distinguished service was recognised not only by Great Britain but also by the presentation to him of a medal by the Russian government at their London embassy; and he made the trip to Moscow for the 50th anniversary of the Arctic convoys.

He always said, apparently, that if he won the lottery he would use the winnings to fund a lifeboat. When he fell seriously ill and was taken into a nursing home for what turned out to be his final two years, Sheila had the inspiration to contact the RNLI about supporting the acquisition of a lifeboat.

Hello Herbie II is perfect for service in the Rye Bay area. She has two on-board computer screens for radar and GPS tracking and a VHF direction-finder for helping to pinpoint any casualty. She carries four crew and has additional survivor space.

As may be imagined, Sheila was very dear to the hearts of all at Rye Harbour lifeboat station. It is worth remembering that without charitable donations, large and small, there would be no RNLI. Commenting after one of her visits to the station she reflected that her visits were always so uplifting. She visited a number of times and on each occasion was struck by the camaraderie displayed by everyone, which she found exceptional. She was impressed too, in recent years, by the crew’s dedication to training in all weathers and was pleased to see that there were some forty volunteers keeping the station strong.

Sheila loved her walking, driving and the sea. As a family. with their three children, she and David spent many summer months visiting the seaside town of Whitstable where they had a holiday home. Both parents taught the children about the power of the sea and the need to respect it. Sheila sailed their dinghy with James her youngest son. The children were taught to swim from an early age and to be competent when near or on the water. The children have such fond memories of all those hours spent in their favourite haunts.

Sheila will be sorely missed by all at RNLI Rye Harbour and our thoughts at this time are with her family. They are promising to maintain the family’s links with the RNLI and to visit Rye Harbour when this pandemic is over.


Sheila Pigott and the crew at RNLI Rye Harbour


Sheila Pigott on board Hello Herbie II


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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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.