Minehead RNLI volunteers open new boathouse
Hundreds gathered in bright sunshine today to officially open Minehead RNLI’s revamped station, and to name Minehead’s new Atlantic class lifeboat, Penny J II.
Boathouse Manager and longstanding crew member Andrew Escott opened proceedings, welcoming guests before handing over to Dave Nicoll, Fundraising and Partnership lead, who handed the boathouse into the care of the RNLI on behalf of the community.
Theresa Hobbs and Jane Cunnington-Phillips, nieces of benefactor Mr Charles Henry Jones then handed Atlantic Class Lifeboat B-939 Penny J II into the care of the station.
Lord Mark Sedwill, RNLI trustee, then accepted the boathouse and lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI, handing them to the care of Minehead Lifeboat Operations Manager, Dr John Higgie.
A Service of Dedication was led by Reverends Ann Gibbs and Andrew Hazelwood, before David Spicer officially opened the boathouse.
Lifeboat Helm Phil Sanderson then delivered a Vote of Thanks to close the ceremony.
Guests enjoyed light refreshments and Watchet Town Band, before both lifeboats performed a demonstration. Guests were able to see at close quarters the incredible inshore capabilities of the Atlantic 85 and D-Class lifeboats.
Over the past year, Minehead’s historic boathouse has undergone a dramatic transformation, funded primarily by several generous bequests.
Minehead’s lifeboat station was established in 1901 following the 1899 overland launch of Lynmouth Lifeboat, when horses pulled lifeboat Louisa over Porlock Hill due to rough conditions in Lynmouth. This demonstrated the clear need for a station in Minehead.
Since 1901, it has undergone several refurbishments, and adaptions to the changing needs of the challenging coastline, including the change from wooden boats to inshore lifeboats in 1970. Some things remain unchanged though, such as the tricky launch over a constantly shifting shingle ridge.
The most recent work to the boathouse has transformed a historic building into one fit for the 21st Century, with greatly improved crew changing facilities, a large open plan meeting and training space and most importantly, a re-designed hall for the D class lifeboat enabling far quicker launches.
Minehead’s new Atlantic 85 lifeboat, B-939 Penny J II is the result of a generous donation by Mr. Charles Henry Jones.
Mr. Jones funded two Atlantic 85 lifeboats in memory of his beloved wife Penny. The second lifeboat will enter service next year.
His nieces travelled across the country to attend today’s ceremony. Theresa Hobbs commented about Penny J II 'It’s a wonderful way to remember them and seeing the lifeboat launch means so much. I’m glad that it will be here saving lives in their memory'
Lifeboat Operations Manager John Higgie said: ‘We are delighted with the arrival of this new B class lifeboat. The Atlantic 85 is the third generation B class lifeboat to be built, capable of speeds up to 35 knots. Fast, manoeuvrable, agile and versatile, it has all the qualities of its predecessors, and more. It is ideally suited to rescues close to the shore. Yet, it can also withstand challenging conditions in the open sea, making it an exemplary search and rescue craft'
Visitors are welcome to Minehead’s new boathouse to see the changes and learn about the lifesaving work of the volunteer crew. Guided tours are available on Tuesdays and Saturdays between 12-4pm - visitors should come to the boathouse shop to enquire on the day.
For further details, please contact Lifeboat Press Officer Sam Donati at Minehead Lifeboat Station- [email protected] or 07967 845003
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
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