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Ilfracombe RNLI names latest lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI Ilfracombe held a moving ceremony on Saturday (5 November) to receive and name the inshore lifeboat

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Deborah Brown's sons at the ceremony of the lifeboat named after her
In a packed lifeboat station on Saturday, Ilfracombe's newest inshore lifeboat was named in a moving ceremony attended by members of the local community, past and present crew members, and members of all the volunteer teams in RNLI Ilfracombe.

Ilfracombe's latest lifeboat is, of course, already a familiar sight in the Harbour and has attended many of the year's shouts. Her naming ceremony was long overdue but delays, largely due to the pandemic, meant that it could not be held until now.

Heavy rain threatened to ruin the plans for the naming and dedication ceremony of the D-Class lifeboat but the skies cleared as the South Molton Town Band began to play to mark the opening of the event and the audience took to their seats, with many more guests squeezing into the station, standing around the new lifeboat.

It was particularly poignant to have so many members of the Brown family attending for it is largely thanks to their efforts that Ilfracombe has not only this lifeboat, but also its two predecessors. In 1996, dedicated nurse, Deborah Brown collapsed at work having experienced a catastrophic brain haemorrhage. She never regained consciousness. She was survived by husband Paul and their four sons, James aged 11, Howard aged 9, Charles aged 6 and Daniel aged 3.

Some months later, Paul decided to put his mind to fundraising in her name. Quickly, these efforts were channelled into the purchase of a new inshore lifeboat for the RNLI. Thanks to these tremendous efforts, Ilfracombe RNLI held a naming ceremony for the first D-555 Deborah Brown in November 2000. In November 2009 saw the naming ceremony for the D-717 Deborah Brown II. And on Saturday, Deborah's four sons poured the traditional bottle of champagne over the D-863 Deborah Brown III.

In total Ilfracombe's inshore lifeboats carrying Deborah's name have been launched on 613 shouts. They have helped 512 people and have saved 21 lives.

Leigh Hanks, accepting the new lifeboat on behalf of RNLI Ilfracombe, spoke of his gratitude for the family's inspirational fundraising efforts and described the tremendous manoeuvrability, agility and speed of Deborah Brown III. 'As a lifeboat, she is perfectly suited for our rough, rocky coastline', he said. 'And is kitted out with everything we need. We are so grateful to have a lifeboat which we can trust to get everyone back safely.'

After the service, both the inshore lifeboat and the all-weather lifeboat were launched and the crowd on the Pier were treated to a display of the inshore lifeboat's great handling of rough water. The display included one of the volunteer crew jumping into water so the inshore lifeboat could pluck her out of the very cold sea with great speed and efficiency, and then we witnessed the small D-Class effortlessly tow the all-weather lifeboat which is no mean feat considering it weighs 18 tonnes! The audience were left in no doubt how lucky we are to have the Deborah Brown III here in Ilfracombe.

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Deborah Brown's sons at the ceremony of the lifeboat named after her

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Howard Brown at the naming ceremony

RNLI/Neil Perrin

The Reverend Mark Ruoff leading the Service of Dedication

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Bothe Ilfracombe lifeboats were launched after the ceremony

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Crew members demonstrating a rescue

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.