Charlie goes coast to coast for the RNLI
Eleven-year old Charlie Cave strode into Lynmouth this morning (Tuesday) with 118 gruelling miles behind him and more than £1200 in his RNLI fund-raising kitty.
With his dad, Tom, Charlie has completed a coast-to-coast walk across Devon via the Two Moors Way, starting in Wembury, near Plymouth, last week and ending with a precipitous drop from the heights of Exmoor down to the North Devon village.
The money he raised will go towards the £1 million cost of extending and remodelling Minehead’s historic RNLI lifeboat house, a scheme already underway and due for completion in the autumn.
Charlie, a pupil at Blundell’s School, Tiverton, set out the day after his birthday after training for the walk for three months in the countryside around his home in Knowstone, near South Molton.
He and his dad’s cross-country adventure included three nights under canvass, a close encounter with an adder and a spell navigating across Dartmoor by compass when the fog came down.
But, said dad Tom, a veterinary consultant: “Charlie never once moaned about anything. He was remarkable. He had set himself this goal and he was determined to achieve it – and for much of the way I was chasing after him.”
Charlie said the hardest part of the walk had been the mid-Devon section, crossed when week-end temperatures were at their highest.
“Dad had to pour some water over me at one point to cool me down,” he said.
Minehead RNLI chairman Richard Newton said Charlie’s had been a remarkable achievement.
“He has done fantastically well,” he said. “He has not only raised a considerable sum of money, he has demonstrated that this country possesses a new generation of up-and-coming young fund-raisers who recognise the value of having a volunteer lifeboat service and are ready to support its work.”
Both Minehead’s lifeboats – an Atlantic 85 rigid inflatable and a D class inflatable – are state-of-the art craft but facilities at the 120-year old station itself are not fit for purpose and there is an urgent need for more space. Female crew members currently have to get changed in a storage cupboard; there are no showers; and the crew training room is far too small to accommodate all the 30-plus crew at once.
Remodelling will see the building enlarged westwards with the ground floor extension enabling the creation of a crew changing room with showers and a separate female crew changing space, a dedicated mechanics’ workshop and a souvenir shop.
But the most important improvement will be the provision of a full-length boat hall at the rear of the building which for the first time will allow the D class – normally launched through the harbour - to remain permanently hitched to its tractor, enabling the crew to shave minutes off its response times.
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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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.