St Abbs independent lifeboat is launched

Launch day in St Abbs for the Thomas Tunnock Independent Lifeboat
Launch day in St Abbs for the Thomas Tunnock Independent Lifeboat

Thousands of people descended on St Abbs on Saturday to see the independent lifeboat officially launched in glorious sunshine.

The sun has definitely been shining on St Abbs since the dark day the RNLI lifeboat left the harbour for the last time on September 8, 2015. The shocked community mobilised into action, and having failed to persuade the RNLI to retain the St Abbs lifeboat they set about drumming up support to raise enough money to have their own independent lifeboat,

Boyd Tunnock watches as his grandchildren take a trip around the harbour in the new lifeboat

Boyd Tunnock watches as his grandchildren take a trip around the harbour in the new lifeboat

Many took the cause to their hearts and were determined to be there to see the culmination of the village’s efforts and the launch of the St Abbs Thomas Tunnock independent lifeboat, the fastest and most advanced lifeboat in the UK.

Saturday was a big day for the village and the joy and community spirit was palpable in the air as they celebrated the return of a lifeboat into the harbour.

The honour of naming the new vessel went to Boyd Tunnock, who contributed £260,000 to the lifeboat fund along with a request that the boat was named after his grandfather, who founded the famous Tunnock bakery, and his late brother.

“We expected hundreds not thousands,” said a slightly bemused Euan Gibson, a member of the Support St Abbs lifeboat team, as he looked across the harbour which was overflowing with families and well wishers.

Wherever you looked at St Abbs harbour there were hundres of people there for the launch

Wherever you looked at St Abbs harbour there were hundres of people there for the launch

“It’s absolutely outstanding to look around about here and see you all supporting us in what we are trying to do,” added Alistair Crowe, chairman of St Abbs lifeboat.

Even Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon turned up for the launch, taking a back seat on the day to Mr Tunnock and the lifeboat crew and fund raising team.

“I visited St Abbs in April and was so impressed with what they were doing,” said Ms Sturgeon. “It just shows what can be achieved when local communities come together.

“I’m full of admiration for them, it’s amazing.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins the St Abbs lifeboat crew prior to the parade  down to the harbour

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins the St Abbs lifeboat crew prior to the parade down to the harbour

Saturday was one of the sunniest and warmest days St Abbs has seen this summer and the celebrations continued on the harbourside all afternoon, people just soaking up the sun and the atmosphere of a community that turned disappointment into one of the success stories of the year, the pride in their lifeboat crew and new boat visible for all to see.

Thousands of people lined the shore line, slopes and piers of St Abbs harbour for the launch of the independent lifeboat.

Thousands of people lined the shore line, slopes and piers of St Abbs harbour for the launch of the independent lifeboat.