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Ramsgate RNLI say goodbye to lifeboat after nearly thirty years of service.

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteer crew, past crew and families as well as the townsfolk of Ramsgate gathered around Ramsgate Royal Harbour to say goodbye to Trent class Esme Anderson as she was handed over to begin her service at Eastbourne.

A gathering of crew on the lifeboats

RNLI/Martin Fish

The crew of Ramsgate and the delivery team gather for a symbolic handover

The Esme Anderson 14-02 arrived into Ramsgate in the Autumn of 1994 straight from Poole to take over from the previous lifeboat, Tyne class Kenneth Thelwall II. The Trent class was the first all weather lifeboat capable of twenty five knots and with a range of two hundred and fifty nautical miles.

> Her dedication service was held in Ramsgate on 25 October 1994 attended by then President of the RNLI HRH the Duke of Kent who was welcomed by the Station Hon.Sec Captain Geoffrey Tully.

> Christopher Oldham, the donor of the money and son of Mrs Esme Anderson, was also in attendance and after a few words handed the boat over to the Station and the Town of Ramsgate.

> The Anderson family had generously funded two boats bearing the Anderson name as Esme’s husband Keith Anderson had a boat named in his honour five years earlier, an Arun class lifeboat which was at Newhaven Station for six years, followed by a spell in the relief fleet and finishing in Hartlepool in 2003.


> On Saturday 10 February the day had finally arrived when the Esme Anderson would be handed over to the crew from Eastbourne.


> Eastbourne crew Dave Needham, Coxswain and Trainer Assessor for the RNLI, James Wishman the Mechanic, Sam Whittaker volunteer crew, Guy Emery, trainee coxswain, mechanic and navigator and Carl Pocock retired crew and LOM arrived early to enjoy a breakfast provided by the Ramsgate crew and families at the Station.

> Then at 11.00 Ramsgate Coxswain Ian Cannon and Eastbourne Coxswain Dave Needham shook hands in front of their crew and the symbolic handover was complete.


> Father John Chater, the Station Chaplain, said a prayer for the safety of both the crews and the boats set off on a tour of the harbour before Ramsgate Tamar Diamond Jubilee and relief lifeboat Tamar Peter and Lesley-Jane Nicholson set off their water hoses and Esme Anderson passed under an arch of spray and out of the harbour with the local fishing boats, blowing their horns, following her out and the crowds on both arms of the harbour cheering and waving her goodbye.


> Ramsgate volunteer crew will be sorry to see her go, as over the nearly thirty years that they had her they had many fond memories, not just of rescues but the fun times as well.


> Volunteer crew Jason Crome shared his memory of his first time of stepping onboard Esme in those early days. ‘Times were different then and when the lifeboat needed to launch, if there was no crew available then they would take the most experienced person available. Then Coxswain Ron Cannon asked me to jump on board to launch to a yacht in distress, what an amazing rush! That was when I was in my early twenties and I went on to become a member of the crew and still am to this day.’


> Clive Nichols, the Deputy Mechanic remembers crossing the Channel on Esme Anderson with the Dunkirk Little Ships Association, not once but three times. Every five years the DLSA commemorates Operation Dynamo returning to Dunkirk in commemoration of those who fought for us, those that died and didn’t return. As well as being escorted across by the Royal Navy, the elderly but immaculate boats are also escorted by the RNLI. In Ramsgate’s case this is for two reasons.

> The first is in memory of Ramsgate Class Prudential ON697 built in 1925, whose Coxswain Howard Knight and crew spent forty hours at sea of which thirty hours were under fire rescuing 2,800 men. The second is to provide assistance if any boat was to break down.

> Clive said, ‘ I have wonderful memories of the sight of the Little Ships crossing, the camaraderie of everyone being together in Dunkirk, listening to the stories from the survivors.’


> Volunteer crew Lance Oram talked about picking Esme up from Diverse Marine in the Isle of Wight after she had some repairs done in July 2022. He said, ‘ It was a long day, but heading out from the Marina with the sun rising and the sea calm was just a magical memory.’


> In the early days of the boat the families had warm memories of heading out of Ramsgate Harbour round to Broadstairs Water Gala. Held on a Wednesday in August it is always a special day with the beach full of sunbathers and water sports in the bay and the arrival of the lifeboats is a much anticipated moment.


> Asking Phil Mace the Mechanic about Esme Anderson he summed her up from a mechanical point of view, ‘ As her mechanic for the past twenty five years she has proved herself to be reliable, she just gets you home. Simple, basic engineering that has never let us down. ‘


> Coxswain Ian Cannon and his brother Paul, who is Second Coxswain, have very long memories of Esme Anderson as their father Ron was the Coxswain when Esme arrived on Station. Ian recalls going with his father to Littlehampton to watch her progress as she was being built before she arrived in Ramsgate.

> Both brothers, when asked separately of their fondest memories, gave the same memory of Esme Anderson which involved the rescue of the Tug Jolly.

> Ron Cannon retired from the RNLI on 27 January 2001 and during the handover period from Ron to Ian, Esme Anderson was called out to a converted tug called Jolly, which had complete engine failure with one person onboard around the back of the Goodwin Sands.

> Ian recalls, ‘ This was my first time in control with my father overseeing it. It was an awful December night and we were surfing down waves by the South Foreland due to strong wind and tide. The best option was to take the Tug into the safety of Dover Harbour.

> When nearing the Harbour, Port Control asked the crew to stand by due to ferry movements. Being so close to the Port the crew decided to take a turn back out to sea awaiting permission to enter. As the Jolly turned broadside in the extreme conditions the aft quarter of Esme Anderson was underwater due to the swell and as I looked down from the fly bridge I could see my brother Paul and Alan Bray wading through the thigh high water.

> The Jolly also rolled heavily and the massive mast came crashing down onto the deck of the Tug in a shower of sparks. Dover RNLI lifeboat was launched and they assisted us in getting the Tug moored up safely.’

> For both brothers this was a special memory as it was the last time they went out on a rescue with their father Ron before he retired.


> Ramsgate crew would like to wish Esme Anderson and her new crew volunteer safe travels with fair winds and following seas.


> Karen Cox Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 07779848431 Email : [email protected].


> Julie Rainey Regional Media Manager South East Tel: 07827358256 Email: [email protected]

Two Tamars with waterspraying and a Trent passing through the water

RNLI/Martin Fish

The Tamars use their hosepipes to create an arch with Esme Anderson passing through.
four lifeboats heading out to sea

RNLI/Martin fish

Esme Anderson heading off to sea supported by Ramsgate's lifeboat

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