Kessock RNLI marks 30 years of saving lives at sea
June 2023 sees the 30th anniversary of Kessock RNLI having a lifeboat station and saving lives at sea.
Following four requests to launch last weekend, the volunteer crew had the opportunity to mark the station’s anniversary with cake following a training exercise on Monday (5 June).
Among the requests to launch last weekend were to assist the crew of a broken down rib near Avoch, to assist four people who had capsized from a pleasure boat and to assist the crew of a boat which had lost steering, all of whom were brought to safety by a number of local vessels and the station’s crew.
It was 1992 when the Harbour Master at Inverness approached the RNLI to raise the idea that there could be a need for a lifeboat at North Kessock, due to the increased number of incidents their staff were dealing with. Fast forward to the Spring of 1993 and it was agreed that there would be trial run of a lifeboat from the slip in North Kessock.
Alan McDiarmid, Kessock RNLI Deputy Launching Authority who has held several volunteer roles over the years recalled a number of years ago: ‘The RNLI had a very different guise in those days, with crew wearing normal wellies and what can only be described as a motorbike helmet, bearing in mind the letters PPE had only been developed a year or two before. Nothing like today's crew's steel toe cap, anti-slip wellies, and Gecko helmets, which the RNLI have developed and are now copied around the world.
‘Due to a lack of floodlights on the D class boat that was stationed in North Kessock, it was agreed the crew would launch during daylight hours, from spring until autumn, thus meaning there was no overnight cover, and from when the clocks changed, there was no cover at all. This made things difficult if the crew were called out in the early evening, as there was no idea how long the incident would take, and LED torches weren't developed until the late 90's.’
In 1994, the decision was taken to have a full-time operation at North Kessock, run by volunteers on a call out basis. The team continued to use the lifeboat that was stationed the year before until the 10 May 1995, when the new D class lifeboat was placed on service. Fast forward to 1999, when the decision was made by the executive committee to change the name of the station to Kessock Lifeboat Station, dropping the North, to accommodate the planned change of lifeboat to an Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat, and a new boathouse.
In September 2001, the new lifeboat station was completed at a cost of £481,500. An Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Lucy Beryl was stationed there on a temporary basis from 18 October 2001.
On Friday 7 June 2002, the new lifeboat station was opened and a naming ceremony was held for the new Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Moray Dolphin. This lifeboat was made to last, and it did, until January 2013, when a new lifeboat was funded by Dr Isobel Stewart Fenton, in memory of her mother and father. Lifeboat Robert and Isobel Mowat was now in service, a lifeboat which the station still use to this day, however it has had some modifications and adaptions over the years.
Kessock RNLI now operates with approximately 15 volunteer lifeboat crew and 10 shore crew and a team of other dedicated officers and fundraisers.
Shane Warde, Kessock RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘We have a volunteer water safety officer who spends her time visiting school groups, cubs and scouts and sailing clubs to spread our water safety messages and help us to save lives at sea. We still firmly believe with a proper education of the water, we can help people enjoy it more safely. Kessock RNLI launched 43 times in 2022, to a variety of different incidents including a flyaway hot tub to helping the crew of a yacht which found itself in difficulty. We are supported by a dedicated fundraising team who raise thousands of pounds each year to allow us to operate a 24/7 on call facility out of Kessock RNLI.
‘The crew are all volunteers, giving their time and expertise for free. No matter what time, day or night, when the pager goes, they respond. Half eaten dinners are left on the table, hair can be washed and not dried. They miss out on life events, friends barbecues, weddings and parties, all to ensure the waters around the Moray Firth are as safe as can be.’
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
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries