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Dramatic end to Chief Executive’s visit with Walton and Frinton RNLI volunteers

Lifeboats News Release

When volunteers from Walton and Frinton Royal National Lifeboat Institution gathered to meet the charity’s Chief Executive, Mark Dowie on Wednesday May 25 they were not expecting to end the afternoon ‘Out on a Shout’.

RNLI/Miranda Rayner

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie (extreme right) with representatives of management, fundraising, shore team and crew at Walton & Frinton RNLI

The visit was part of a tour of local lifeboat stations by Mr Dowie with a visit to Harwich at lunchtime and Clacton in the evening before moving on to West Mersea and Burnham RNLI stations the next day.

Volunteer representatives of fundraising, management, shore team and crew were assembled at the lifeboat house to hear updates on RNLI news and receive thanks for all their work continuing to save lives during the Covid pandemic.

Shortly after the meeting began HM Coastguard requested the station’s Tamar class lifeboat Irene Muriel Rees be launched to assist a small sailing vessel with two people on board that had been disabled 17 miles south-west of Walton-on-the-Naze. The vessel had damage to the sails and a failed engine and was drifting close to the River Thames shipping lanes in winds gusting 30 knots.

Volunteer crew member, Dale Steggles said: ‘Once on scene we decided the best approach was to tow the vessel to safety to allow the crew to carry out repairs. While under tow the casualty vessel reported water ingress that could not be contained, this required the launch of the lifeboat’s smaller Y-boat to put two RNLI crew on board to assist in stopping the water coming in. This was completed, allowing the tow to continue and the vessel was brought to Titchmarsh Marina where it was moored to await repair.’

The lifeboat was released some five hours after launching on service.

According Walton and Frinton’s volunteer Operations Manager, Stewart Oxley this is not the first time a visit has prompted a shout: ‘This has happened at least three times now over the years, in 2005 we were visited by the Chairman of the Trustees of RNLI, Admiral Sir Jock Slater who actually ended up going on a shout with the crew and then a visit from Mark Dowie’s predecessor, Paul Boissier led to an all-night shout just after he departed’

‘We hope they don’t expect drama every time they come to see us.’

RNLI Media contacts

For more information please telephone Miranda Rayner, Walton and Frinton RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07799691852 or [email protected]

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.