St Abbs lifeboat gets a warm welcome

SBBN St Abbs' new independent lifeboat
SBBN St Abbs' new independent lifeboat

The whole village of St Abbs turned out to welcome their new lifeboat which arrived safely at the harbour late on Thursday night, July 28.

The lifeboat travelled to the village by road trailer from the builders, Marine Specialised Technology, based in Liverpool and was successfully launched into the water that night.

The crew unwrap the new St Abbs lifeboat

The crew unwrap the new St Abbs lifeboat

It will be the centre of attention at the St Abbs Lifeboat fete this weekend, with an official launch due to take place on September 17.

One of the most technologically advanced lifeboats in the UK it is to be called ‘The Thomas Tunnock’ after the man who created the Lanarkshire based Tunnock bakery company famous for their teacakes and caramel wafers. Thomas Tunnock’s grandson Boyd Tunnock, who now runs the company, is a keen sailor and agreed to give a donation of £260,000 towards the St Abbs Lifeboat appeal fund if the fundraising committee and community agreed to name it after his grandfather; which they readily did.

Euan Gibson, of the Support St Abbs Lifeboat appeal said: “Powered by twin 200hp engines, with state of the art electronics, it will be one of the quickest and most technologically advanced lifeboats in the UK, and will be ideal for the incidents most encountered along the Berwickshire coastline.

“Already built to satisfy the Rescue Boat Code, the crew and committee will continue to liaise closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to satisfy their criteria for achieving ‘declared facility status’.

“Everyone involved with St Abbs independent lifeboat would like to take this opportunity of thanking the public for their overwhelming support and backing.

“We look forward to St Abbs continuing the 105 year-old tradition of saving lives, for which the village has rightly become synonymous.”

The RNLI withdrew lifeboat services from St Abbs last summer, saying that the Eyemouth boats were near enough to cover any emergency on the Berwickshire coastline.

However, neither the St Abbs crew, nor the community accepted that decision, particularly as the nearby marine reserve attracts a large number of divers to the village. After their campaign to save St Abbs RNLI lifeboat failed to change the minds of RNLI hierarchy, they set about raising money to buy their own lifeboat and equipment, plus ensure the crew continued training, and less than a year later St Abbs once again has its own boat.

There have been a few tweaks required to the lifeboat station in order to accommodate the new boat.

They have had to lengthen the winch and extend the launching ramp as the new boat is slightly bigger than their previous inflatable. The boathouse has been given a spring clean, the crews gear is all in place and nine of the crew have recently attended a residential training course at Darlington.

Crew member Graham Slack said: “I am sure that the old crewmen of the St Abbs lifeboats and their families, who gave tirelessly towards the 104 years of service to their community, would be very proud of what we are doing today and see it as being the only way forward.

“It would seem that our community has been forged together with one overwhelming objective, all the doubt and uncertainty that loomed over our heads when the RNLI announced their plans in May has been lifted from us and now we are all looking to the future with new plans new ideas and a new determination that can only come from having nothing left to lose.”