Portsmouth RNLI’s lifeboat named in honour of most highly decorated volunteer
Portsmouth RNLI’s new D class lifeboat has been officially named The Dennis Faro in tribute to a former crew member who was honoured by the charity that saves lives at sea, for the part he played in saving four lives.
It’s very unusual for an RNLI lifeboat to be named after a member of crew, but the unique way in which the new Portsmouth lifeboat was funded meant the name of the lifeboat was chosen by the crew, rather than after an individual donor, as is more often the case.
In a Naming Ceremony and Service of Dedication held this weekend (Saturday 2 April) D-850 The Dennis Faro was officially accepted into service at the station by its Lifeboat Operations Manager Richard Butler.
Funding for the lifeboat was raised through a community led appeal by selling £175 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle cut from the photo of the station’s previous D-class lifeboat Brian’s Pride. Many events were held, at which the crew were humbled by both the generosity and warmth of the public and local businesses, including the staff of Knight and Lee who wished to leave a legacy for the community by purchasing many of the pieces. £20,000 was raised and then another contributor added a significant amount of money. It was then left to the crew to decide on a suitable name.
They decided on The Dennis Faro, after the station’s most highly decorated crew member. Dennis received a Bronze Medal from the RNLI for his role as helm during the rescue of two people from a yacht in very rough seas in August 1973 and a Bronze Clasp for the rescue of two people from a motor cruiser in danger of capsizing in heavy seas in September 1974. *
‘It is pretty unusual to have a lifeboat named after a previous crew member,’ said Portsmouth helm Aaron Gent. ‘We are very lucky to have had some incredible donors and some very incredible fundraisers, so we chose something from history’
‘It’s fundraised by the local lifeboat station and the local community. The lifeboat was built locally (at the Inshore Lifeboat Centre in Cowes), the boat is going to be serving the local community, so we named it after our local hero who is Dennis Faro, our most highly decorated crew member’.
‘It’s fantastic for our naming ceremony today to have representatives of his family to join us to see again what the local community has done and what the local crew of our station have decided to honour him with’.
During the Naming Ceremony, those gathered at the lifeboat station also heard from Marilyn Bass, who along with her husband Brian (who was a RNLI governor and Fundraising Chairman) had funded the station’s previous D class Brian’s Pride.
‘Between 2009 when Brian’s Pride went operational and 2020, when it was removed from service, this D class 716 lifeboat was launched 341 times saving 26 lives at sea and aiding 250 people and spending 163 hours at sea.
The total length of service was 10 years 10 months and 4 days,’ said Marilyn, who officially handed Brian’s Pride’s replacement The Dennis Faro into the care of the RNLI.
Portsmouth Lifeboat Operations Manager Richard Butler, who accepted the new lifeboat into service at the station, said it was a proud day for everyone at the station:
‘We are extremely grateful to all of those who have donated towards the lifeboat. While we are sad to have said a farewell to Brian’s Pride we look forward to writing a new chapter in the station’s history with the arrival of the new D class lifeboat. The D class lifeboat means we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available and I know when the crews head out to sea we will all have peace of mind that the lifeboat will keep them safe’.
Note to Editors:
The Service of Dedication was led by Revd Dr John Strain, Station Chaplain. Rear Admiral John Tolhurst accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it into the care of Portsmouth Lifeboat Station. The Achoired Taste choir provided the music.
The Dennis Faro has already begun its role in saving lives in the seas around Portsmouth. It was delivered to the station during the Coronavirus pandemic, but due to restrictions placed on gatherings, the official naming ceremony was held back until now.
*Dennis Faro was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (as helm) ‘In recognition of the courage and seamanship displayed by him when the inshore lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of two of the yacht Jo of Ryde which was in difficulties and dragging her anchor three miles south south west of Eastney Point in a south south westerly gale and a very rough sea on 5th August 1973’.
As a member of crew he was awarded the Bronze Second-Service Clasp of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution ‘in recognition of the gallantry, dedication to duty, judgement and expert seamanship he displayed when the inshore lifeboat rescued the crew of two of the motor cruiser Valon which was taking heavy seas and was in danger of capsizing in the Cockle Rythe area of Langstone Channel in a south south-westerly storm in the early hours of 7th September 1974’.
*The D class inshore lifeboat has been the workhorse of the RNLI for more than 50 years. First introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963, the design of the inflatable D class lifeboat continues to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology. It is highly manoeuvrable and usually operates closer to shore than the RNLI’s larger all-weather lifeboats. She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.
Portsmouth Lifeboat Station has been providing search and rescue for the eastern Solent since 1965. It current operates a D class lifeboat and an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Norma T.
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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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