Freemasons boost Minehead lifeboat appeal

Lifeboats News Release

A £250,000 local appeal towards the cost of modernising Minehead’s RNLI lifeboat station has moved a step nearer its target with a donation from Taunton freemasons.

RNLI/Chris Rundle

Richard Huish Lodge’s Roger Biss hands the cheque to Minehead RNLI chairman Richard Newton

Members of the Richard Huish Lodge visited the station on Sunday to hand over a cheque for £2,120 to a delighted Minehead RNLI chairman Richard Newton.

He said everyone at the station had been hugely impressed by the fact that so much support for the appeal had come from outside the immediate area.

“The support the station gets from the Minehead community is legendary but over the last few months we have seen individuals and organisations from all over Somerset and beyond making valuable contributions to the fund-raising effort as well - and for that we are hugely grateful,” he said.

“It’s extremely gratifying that so many people regard this as such a worthwhile project - and want to do whatever they can to see it become reality.”

The local fund-raising target represents just under a quarter of what the RNLI is spending on modernising and extending the 120-year old listed boathouse which provides 24-hour rescue cover from Hinkley Point to Lynmouth.

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 had long been inadequate for the needs of the crew.

Female crew members had to get changed in a storage cupboard under the eaves; there were no showers; and the crew training room was 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 valuable minutes off its response times.

Work is well underway with a provisional completion date in December

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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