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HRH The Duke of Kent visits RNLI All-weather Lifeboat Centre

Lifeboats News Release

Today (Wednesday 7 June), His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visited the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) All-weather Lifeboat Centre, based in Poole, Dorset to meet some of the charity’s marine engineering apprentices and staff.

As the RNLI’s President, The Duke of Kent takes a great interest in the charity’s lifesaving work and last year, His Royal Highness awarded RNLI crews and lifeguards with gallantry awards at St James’s Palace.

During the visit, The Duke met with RNLI Chair Janet Legrand, RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie, the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, and a variety of the RNLI’s engineering apprentices and staff.

His Royal Highness was given a tour of the All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) where the production and refit of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats takes place.

Following almost 20 years of service as part of the RNLI fleet, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Her Majesty The Queen has retired. As part of the visit today, The Duke was able to view the lifeboat after she was returned to the ALC after her final operational passage from Port St Mary to Fleetwood on 6 May, the day of the Coronation. Later this year, RNLB Her Majesty The Queen will be taken to The Historic Dockyard Chatham where she will become part of the RNLI’s historic lifeboat collection.

The Duke’s previous visit to the RNLI in Poole in 2010 saw His Royal Highness take a harbour trip on an experimental lifeboat which was then developed into the RNLI’s state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat.

Today, His Royal Highness went aboard Anstruther RNLI’s new Shannon class lifeboat which is nearing completion. The official numbers on the Shannon’s bow will be made up of the names of 10,000 loved ones as part of the charity’s Launch a Memory fundraising campaign.

After meeting some of the RNLI’s apprentices and learning more about the charity’s marine engineering work, His Royal Highness was presented with a handmade weathervane, modelled on the Wells RNLI Shannon class lifeboat, Duke of Edinburgh.

Presented by Technician Boatbuilder, Dave Martin, the gift was made by the ALC staff using building materials from the Shannon class lifeboats.

Dave said: ‘The weathervanes originally started because I was looking for a project for one of our apprentices as I wanted them to get some experience in cutting the different materials used to build our Shannon lifeboats.

‘We’ve made a few weathervanes since then and it was a real honour to present The Duke of Kent with a personal version, modelled on the Wells RNLI Shannon class lifeboat, Duke of Edinburgh.’

RNLI Electrical Apprentice, Amanda Jones said: ‘It has been really exciting to meet His Royal Highness today and to showcase our All-weather Lifeboat Centre. I started my apprenticeship last year and it has been fantastic to work with a team of people who have many years of experience across different areas in marine engineering.’

The Duke later enjoyed lunch with Janet Legrand, Mark Dowie, the Lord Lieutenant, and 28 nominated members of RNLI staff who were invited as a recognition of their dedication to the charity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘The Duke has a particular interest in engineering, so it was wonderful to be able to show His Royal Highness our manufacturing facility here in Poole, opened in 2014, with the 49th Shannon class lifeboat just completing production and bound for Whitby.

‘Amongst the 170 staff employed within the factory, we have 16 apprentices across a four-year programme. The RNLI’s apprenticeship scheme provides a wide range of opportunities within marine engineering and boatbuilding, with the majority progressing to full-time positions at the RNLI following their training.

‘Last weekend, The Duke experienced our latest Shannon class lifeboat first-hand during a trip onboard RNLB Duke of Edinburgh at Wells-next-the-Sea. Today, His Royal Highness was able to witness the 17-month build and commissioning process from the initial hull and deck production through to the final fixtures and fittings being installed.

‘It was an honour to welcome our President back to Poole today and showcase our world-class boatbuilding facility.’

HRH The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969 after succeeding both his parents as President of the charity.

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact Charlotte Cranny-Evans, RNLI National Media Officer on 01202 336 789 or [email protected].

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Duke of Kent with RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie and RNLI Chair Janet Legrand.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Staff from the RNLI's all-weather lifeboat centre met with HRH The Duke of Kent today.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Electrical Apprentice, Amanda Jones, talking to HRH The Duke of Kent.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Technician Boatbuilder, Dave Martin, presented a handmade RNLI weathervane to His Royal Highness.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

The Duke toured the RNLI's all-weather lifeboat centre in Poole, Dorset.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

His Royal Highness was presented with a handmade weathervane, modelled on the Wells RNLI Shannon class lifeboat, Duke of Edinburgh.

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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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.