Wells RNLI’s dedication and naming ceremony
On Saturday 3 June, Wells next-the-Sea RNLI’s dedication and naming ceremony for the new lifeboat station, its Shannon class lifeboat, Duke of Edinburgh, and its SLARS launch and recovery rig took place.
The state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat was named Duke of Edinburgh to commemorate The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s long-standing commitment to maritime services and recognise a lifetime of support to the RNLI’s longest serving Patron, Queen Elizabeth II.
Wells RNLI’s Launch a Memory lifeboat arrived in the town last October carrying with it 15,000 names of loved ones in its decals ‘RNLI13-46’ who will be celebrated and remembered every time the crew heads out to save lives at sea.
Representatives of the many who have helped to raise funds to enable these new lifesaving assets attended including the Bradbury Foundation* and The Lifeboat Fund* who handed over the new boathouse and lifeboat into the care of the RNLI.
RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie accepted them on behalf of the RNLI and handed them into the care of the lifeboat station. Chris Hardy, Wells RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager then accepted them on behalf of the station before a service of dedication led by Wells RNLI’s Station Chaplain, Rev. Neil Woodruffe.
The guests were treated to a new verse in the hymn ‘Eternal Father’ sung by Wells Churches Together Choir, written by RNLI crew member Richard John MacDonald at Anstruther RNLI Lifeboat Station to capture the ‘courage, strength and grace’ of all who risk their lives at sea to help others. This was the first time this special ‘lifeboat’ verse was featured at an RNLI event.
At the end of the ceremony, RNLI President HRH The Duke of Kent officially named the lifeboat and RNLI Vice President Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence named the launch and recovery rig after its principal donor Patricia Jean Bettany.
RNLB Duke of Edinburgh is the third all-weather lifeboat at Wells to be named by a member of the Royal family. The Oakley class lifeboat RNLB Ernest Tom Neathercoat was named by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent in 1965, and the Mersey class lifeboat RNLB Doris M Mann of Ampthill by HRH Duchess of Kent in July 1990.
Mark Dowie said: ‘It’s a great honour, not just for Wells Lifeboat Station but for the RNLI as a whole to name a lifeboat in honour of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
‘We have included a special feature on the lifeboat’s waterline transom plate in recognition of His Royal Highness’ naval career, installed by His Majesty The King when he visited the RNLI All-weather Lifeboat Centre in June 2021. The plate has been specially engraved with a magpie to commemorate HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s service as Commanding Officer onboard HMS Magpie.
‘We are delighted our President HRH The Duke of Kent has joined us today. The Duke’s warmth, generosity and understanding of our lifesaving work is incredibly valued by this charity and the time His Royal Highness spends with each volunteer is greatly appreciated by the Institution.’
The second part of the event took place on the quay, from 4pm, with The Blakeney Old Wild Rovers playing and singing sea shanties until the new lifeboat joined proceedings at 5pm.
Mark Dowie addressed the community to thank them for their unwavering support to the lifeboat station.
Peter Rainsford, Chair of Wells Lifeboat Management Group, said: ‘Today was a proud day for both the lifeboat station and the town. It provided the perfect opportunity to say a special ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped to make our new lifeboat station, the Shannon class lifeboat and its launch and recovery system a reality. We also took time to reflect and celebrate the names of the many loved ones that will launch with us every time our volunteers set out to save lives at sea.’
Chris Hardy, Wells RNLI’s volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, said ‘Saturday heralded a new chapter of lifesaving for Wells RNLI. It was a momentous occasion and was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the new lifeboat station, lifeboat and launch and recovery system and the sunshine was an extra blessing.’
Notes to Editors
- Founded in 1866, The Lifeboat Fund is the RNLI's longest-standing contributor and its single biggest donor. For its 150th anniversary appeal in 2016, the Civil Service charity raised over £1m for the RNLI Wells Shannon Duke of Edinburgh.
- Wells-next-the-Sea RNLI’s new lifeboat station was part-funded by a generous donation from the Bradbury Foundation. In 2022 the Bradbury Foundation made an exceptionally generous donation to the RNLI to help fund the new lifeboat station.
- For anyone wishing to see the lifeboat who couldn’t attend, the lifeboat station will have further viewing days at the boathouse over the summer. It is usually possible to visit the viewing gallery and see the lifeboat whenever the RNLI souvenir shop is open and, on some days in good weather, the main boathouse doors are opened so the boat can be seen from ground level.
RNLI Photo credits
- Group shot following the ceremony. Photo credit: Chris Taylor.
- RNLI President HRH The Duke of Kent pictured with RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie. Photo credit: Leanne McColm.
- Wells RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh at the quay. Photo credit: Leanne McColm.
- Heading to the quay. Photo credit: Leanne McColm
- A proud moment. Photo credit: Leanne McColm.
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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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