St Abbs support on rise as closure looms

SBBN July 2015 BSAC Chair Eugene Farrell visits St Abbs lifeboat station
SBBN July 2015 BSAC Chair Eugene Farrell visits St Abbs lifeboat station

The RNLI has informed its lifeboat volunteers on the Berwickshire coast that the St Abbs station will be closed on September 8.

The news came in the same week that the British Sub Aqua Club, one of the largest diving clubs in the world, came out in support of the campaign to keep an RNLI presence in the village.

The St Abbs crew have been informed of the date, as have the neighbouring station crews at Eyemouth and Dunbar.

An RNLI spokesman confirmed that the charity “is going to discuss with the crew what should happen and the best way of going forward and removing the boat.”

They added that the training of volunteers at Eyemouth, to help them cover the coastline where the St Abbs boat currently operates, was “going well”.

“The crew at Eyemouth will be trained up and able to operate the D Class boat, which will be declared as a search and rescue asset.”

Campaign organiser Euan Gibson reiterated that the St Abbs crew and community would not give up their protest.

“We always said that we would go on fighting until they locked up the station and took the boat away,” he said the morning after the date was confirmed.

“None of that has changed with this news.”

The Save St Abbs Lifeboat campaign had attracted further support this week.

The British Sub-Aqua Club has joined the Scottish Sub Aqua Club and politicians from Holyrood and Westminster in writing to the RNLI urging the charity to rethink the decision to close the station this year.

Over the last few weeks BSAC has been directly engaging with the RNLI to hear their reasoning behind the decision to remove the St Abbs lifeboat.

The club, which with more than 30,000 members is one of the world’s largest, also expressed concerns over the proposed closure and looked to ensure that any alternative lifeboat provision did not compromise diver safety.

BSAC also offered to organise a meeting with the RNLI to get everyone together to discuss the future of St Abbs Lifeboat Station, including campaigners against the closure and other diving training agencies, which was declined by the RNLI.

In a statement the club said: “We feel we must now act on the sheer strength of feeling from our members and other divers as well as genuine safety concerns and strongly urge the RNLI to retain their lifeboat service at St Abbs.”

Chairman Eugene Farrell, who visited the village to speak to the St Abbs crew this week, said: “It is clear to us now that while we will continue to try to work with the RNLI to ensure there is sufficient provision in the area, for our members one less lifeboat station around St Abbs is simply not acceptable.

“I have been to visit the St Abbs Lifeboat station to see the facilities and have spoken to divers, lifeboat crew and local people myself to hear their concerns.

“Every minute counts when a diver or other sea-user is in trouble. We must now directly represent our members’ concerns and call for the St Abbs lifeboat station to remain open and to provide what is to many, an essential and potentially life-saving service in an area that is very busy in diving terms.”