RNLI Wells celebrate opening of new lifeboat station with flag ceremony
The ceremony, which took place on 13 November, signified the transfer from the old lifeboat station to the new, and marked the opening of the RNLI shop and visitor centre.
Volunteer crew of past and present, and the wider lifeboat family, watched on as the RNLI flag was lowered at the old lifeboat station at 12:03 and raised at the new lifeboat station 13.46 minutes later.
The times had significance and related to the numbers on the station’s lifeboats; 12-03 is the number on Doris M Mann, the station’s existing Mersey class lifeboat, and 13-46 is the number on Duke of Edinburgh, the station’s new Shannon Class lifeboat which will become operational later this year.
Respected former members of the crew, aided by senior current members and the Earl of Leicester, lowered and raised the flag with pride, knowing that although it was the end of an era for the old lifeboat station, it was the beginning of a new and exciting time ahead for the new.
Built entirely by public funding, with a station appeal raising £250,000 in 2014-15 and monies raised through the Civil Service charity, The Lifeboat Fund, contributing the rest, the new lifeboat station was finally completed at the end of last month.
Chris Hardy, lifeboat operations manager, said ‘All of our Lifeboat crew were thrilled to finally transfer to our new purpose-built boathouse, which has been designed specifically to be ‘fit for purpose’ in accommodating and maintaining our new Shannon and D class inshore lifeboats. The new boathouse also provides vastly improved crew changing facilities, a large and well-equipped crew room, which will also double up as an excellent and much needed crew training facility. Currently our Mersey class Lifeboat remains our Station boat and will continue to play that vitally important role of being ‘ever ready’ to save life at sea off our coastline.’
The new Shannon lifeboat station will become fully operational during the winter once the volunteer crew have completed their training in operating the Shannon lifeboat and its SLARS launch and recovery system. Early next year the station’s Mersey lifeboat, Doris M Mann of Ampthill, will be retired and we, and members of the public, will have an opportunity to say a fond farewell to her before she leaves Wells for the last time after serving the station well for 32 years.
As well as housing the Wells' lifeboats, the station also provides a shop and visitor centre with a gallery from which the port side of the RNLB Duke of Edinburgh can be viewed. The shop and visitor centre will be open most Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 4pm over the winter with more days added as more volunteers are trained.
Guided tours of the lifeboat station can be booked, starting in January, through the RNLI Wells website www.wellslifeboat.org/visit.htm The tours will be for groups of up to twelve people and will last just under an hour giving people an opportunity to see the Duke of Edinburgh close up and discover more about the workings of the station.
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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