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Calshot RNLI bids farewell to Willett in goodbye ceremony

Lifeboats News Release

Sunday 23 July saw volunteer crew bid a fond farewell to D Class lifeboat Willett in a ceremony attended by the Peters family, the donors of the boat.

Calshot RNLI crew with the Peters family

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

Calshot RNLI crew with the Peters family

Willett was named after Ken, the late husband of long time supporter of the RNLI, Sheila Peters. Wanting a slightly quirky name, Sheila decided to name the boat after their first car, notoriously temperamental, hence ‘Will It Start?’

Twelve years of service later, with 366 shouts, 504 hours at sea attending incidents, 263 people aided and 9 lives saved, along with a total of 1,579* hours on the water on exercise, Willett proved to be a trusty servant for the Calshot crew.

The ceremony at the station commenced with volunteer crew welcoming Sheila, her daughters Kim and Julie and her granddaughter Stephanie into the station by signing a sea shanty to the tune of Haul Away Joe with lyrics written by Lifeboat Operations Manager Jane Banting.

The Peters family were then presented with a certificate detailing Willett’s contribution to saving lives at sea before a blessing of thanks was read and she was launched on exercise for the final time. They then headed back into the station to enjoy a drink and some of the home baked cakes made by the crew for the event.

Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager Jane Banting said: ‘Willett has been a part of Calshot lifeboat station for over a decade and has been instrumental in helping many people. We are incredibly grateful to the Peters family for their generosity in funding Willett throughout her operational lifespan and it was a pleasure to meet them in person today to give Willett the send-off that she deserves’

Some of Willett's notable shouts include:

Hoegh Osaka – The 180 Metre long car carrier was intentionally grounded by the pilot on Bramble Bank on January 3 2015 after developing a severe list on exiting Southampton Port. Willett was among a fleet of lifeboats that were called to assist and participated in the rescue including darting in to save a crew member that had entered the water.

Vector Martini – The V40 Powerboat overturned near Calshot Castle in May 2015, with Willett launched to assist the casualties onboard.

Small Aircraft Crash – In May 2020 a light aircraft crashed close to Calshot Spit, Willett was tasked to assist with ensuring that the aircraft was safe and keeping nearby vessels from colliding with it.

Jetski Rescue – In June 2022, Willett was tasked to assist a jetskier that had been thrown off into the water. Working in conjunction with independent lifeboat Solent Rescue, crew recovered the casualty and performed multiple rounds of CPR on them until the ambulance service arrived. Four volunteer crew members were awarded RNLI Medical Director commendations for their actions.

Willett will now be taken over to the ILB Centre in Cowes where she will be put through a series of tests to see if she is suitable for conversion to a boarding boat. If not, all viable component parts will be reused for inclusion in future boat builds.

* Accurate to end of May 2023.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact:

Justyn Leonard, Lifeboat Press Officer on 07540 920678 or email [email protected]

Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07785 296252 or email [email protected]

RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789

Presentation of certificate of service to Sheila Peters

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

Presentation of certificate of service to Sheila Peters
The Peters family with their certificate of service for Willett

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

The Peters family with their certificate of service for Willett
Prayer of thanks for service of Willett

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

Prayer of thanks for service of Willett
Volunteer crew waving goodbye to the Peters family as Willett starts her final exercise

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

Volunteer crew waving goodbye to the Peters family as Willett starts her final exercise

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.