Three decades of lifesaving: 30 years of the Mersey class lifeboat in Anstruther
This August, the Mersey-class lifeboat, RNLB Kingdom of Fife, is celebrating 30 years’ service in Anstruther. During this time, she has launched to those in need 492 times, rescuing 552 people and has saved 39 lives.
It is 21 August 1991. Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I do it for you is enjoying a seventh week as UK number one, and in Anstruther, a state-of-the-art lifeboat is arriving in her new home for the very first time. The pier is lined with cheering supporters as Coxswain, Peter Murray MBE, and his crew, sail the lifeboat into Anstruther harbour.
The arrival was hugely significant. The Oakley class lifeboat had been on service in the town since 1965. With the deck exposed to the elements and a top speed of eight-knots, this new lifeboat would provide shelter for the crew whilst halving the response time.
Describing the day the lifeboat arrived in Anstruther 30 years ago, Peter Murray MBE said: “I joined the RNLI in 1961 and was here for the duration of the Oakley’s time in Anstruther. Being Coxswain of the Mersey class lifeboat that day was incredible. It is probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my lifetime. I felt 10-foot tall bringing her into Anstruther.”
Looking on from the shore was one of Anstruther’s newest volunteer recruits, Michael Bruce. Michael joined the RNLI in 1991, age 16. Fast-forward 30 years, Michael now leads the team onboard the Mersey class lifeboat as Coxswain and, in a fittingly sentimental continuation of tradition, will sail the new Shannon class lifeboat into Anstruther in a couple of years’ time.
During Michael’s time in the RNLI, he has spent over 637 hours at sea on rescue missions, saving 21 lives.
Michael said: “Looking back to 1991, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d have the honour to lead this team of volunteers aboard the Mersey here in Anstruther. Sailing under the command of Peter Murray was instrumental for me and my development. I’m extremely proud to be coxswain of this lifeboat 30 years on and continue to save lives at sea.”
The volunteer crew in Anstruther have taken part in a variety of rescues during the last 30 years. Back in 1991, RNLI volunteers rushed to the aid of a fisherman in Anstruther harbour after his boat was destroyed during a gas explosion. In 2013, the lifeboat launched and located a missing diver who was separated from his group near to the Isle of May. And in 2017, RNLI volunteers in Anstruther saved the life of a young boy who had fallen over 20ft from cliffs near Elie.
Lifeboats in Anstruther have come a long way since the days of the 8-knot Oakley lifeboat. With a 25-knot Shannon class lifeboat due in the next few years, the team in Anstruther will go from strength to strength in rescuing those in need.
As we raise a glass to the Mersey and all who’ve sailed on her, we reflect on the 492 rescues she has completed. We celebrate with the 552 people she has aided and are thankful for the 39 lives she has saved.
In the words of Bryan Adams back in 1991, “You know it’s true. Everything I do, I do it for you” - and the very same can be said for Anstruther RNLI in keeping those safe in and around the waters of Anstruther.
Notes to editors
The Mersey was the RNLI’s first fast carriage-launched lifeboat
Pictures are freely available to download from this article
Anstruther coxswain, Michael Bruce, has taken part in 321 rescues, aiding 270 people and has played a part in saving 21 lives.
Interviews with Michael are available on request
You can support the appeal to raise £100,000 for the new lifeboat station in Anstruther by visiting: https://rnli.org/.../give-to-a-special.../anstruther-appeal
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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.