Appeal goes out for lifeboat funding

07/09/15. TSPL Shift.  Campaign to save the RNLI Lifeboat station at St Abbs in Berwickshire. The St Abbs Lifeboat Station is to close tomorrow. Lifeboat crew members picture here from L to R,   Andrew Redden and Ian Wightman Picture Ian Rutherford.
07/09/15. TSPL Shift. Campaign to save the RNLI Lifeboat station at St Abbs in Berwickshire. The St Abbs Lifeboat Station is to close tomorrow. Lifeboat crew members picture here from L to R, Andrew Redden and Ian Wightman Picture Ian Rutherford.

The St Abbs community has formally agreed to launch a funding appeal to operate an Independent Lifeboat Station.

At a packed meeting on September 13, there was a unanimous vote in favour of the project which has initially been named St Abbs Lifeboat.

St Abbs Community Trust is a registered charity, and St Abbs Lifeboat will initially operate under the auspices of the Community Trust to take advantage of existing charitable status so that fundraising can start as soon as possible through the website or JustGiving pages at:

www.stabbslifeboat.org.uk

and

http://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/stabbs/lifeboat

In parallel with this appeal, Smiths Grant, Solicitors, Duns have generously offered to carry out the considerable legal work necessary to set up the new Charitable Trust, free of charge. This trust would take over and operate the existing lifeboat station at St Abbs. Smiths Grant have already commenced work.

St Abbs Lifeboat will also immediately start discussions with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure future compliance with the MCA’s Rescue Boat Code.

The St Abbs Lifeboat campaign is now fully operational and its activities are being coordinated by Alistair Crowe and Euan Gibson, supported by a dedicated and committed team of local volunteers.

Alistair Crowe latterly held the position of Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) during the RNLI years, and has 50 years of experience and service to the Institute. His family along with other St Abbs and local families have been the backbone of the St Abbs Lifeboat for generations.

Euan Gibson recently coordinated the highly visible campaign to save the station.

In announcing the launch of the funding Appeal today, Alistair Crowe said: “We are delighted to have been able to launch this independent appeal so quickly. Our job as a lifeboat crew is to continue to save lives on this coast. A lifeboat at St Abbs is not a luxury - it is an essential public safety requirement given the growth in leisure activities and the natural geography of the coastline. For anyone in trouble at sea it is not about the flag on the boat, it is all about the skill and knowledge of the crew. This is a dramatic and treacherous stretch of coast on a big arc at the southern approach to the Firth of Forth. To a seafarer that means it is exposed to weather and tides from the West all the way round to the South. The combined effect of tides and weather round any exposed headland are potentially dangerous, and St Abbs Head is no different.

“The area has been one of the top UK dive sites for decades, and there is a lot of growth now from sea kayakers, surfers and sea anglers as well. Plus we have seen an increase over the last few years in local fishing boats operating out of St Abbs Harbour. The track record of St Abbs Lifeboat station and the commitment of its volunteers over its 104 year history speaks for itself. We feel responsible for everyone who uses the sea around our village and we want to be able to keep on doing what we’ve been doing for generations and keep the lifeboat running. We have a very detailed record of much of this history, and have plans to place some of this in the public domain.”

Commenting further, Euan Gibson said: “The fact that St Abbs has one of the most professional crews in the UK is a long established fact. That same spirit exists throughout the village as the Sea and Land at St Abbs are intrinsically linked.

“We have also been quite taken aback and humbled by the widespread support we received during the campaign. Our petition to the RNLI had over 13,000 signatures from both within the UK and from over 40 countries all over the World. The campaign was also supported by the Scottish and British Sub Aqua Clubs among others.

“We are delighted today to announce the commencement of fundraising both online and through established channels. We hope that anyone who supports the work of volunteer lifeboat crews will give us their support.

“In terms of application of the Appeal proceeds, in outline I can tell you that we currently estimate that approximately £250,000 should be allocated to the boat and related crew and medical equipment, and that a further £250,000 should be raised initially towards liquid funds. The appeal will also remain open for ad hoc and regular subscription in keeping with charitable practice for lifeboats in the UK.

“We will maintain a flexible stance towards funding and plan to make full use of modern technology, social media etc. to ensure that we have as wide a base of support as possible. The lifeboat is there for anyone who needs it and we welcome any donation, large or small.”

In closing Alistair Crowe added: “We hope the Public will support the Appeal for an independent lifeboat at St Abbs. The DNA of any lifeboat service anywhere in the World is the crews, both men and women, who volunteer to go out the boats.

“We are extremely proud as a village to have served under the RNLI for 104 years. They may have left, but our work continues as it the sea which is both master and mistress round here not any particular flag.

“In the UK many services rely entirely on public donations and we hope you will support us.”