This Saturday will mark a new chapter in the history of the lifeboat at St Abbs, After a year of planning, fund raising, and hard work, the new Independent Lifeboat Station will launch the ‘Thomas Tunnock’ Lifeboat. Here’s the story so far:
1911 The first lifeboat in St Abbs the ‘Helen Smitton’ is officially launched the 25th April 1911. It is in honour of Miss Jane Hay who headed the first community campaign for a lifeboat after witnessing the destruction of, and loss of the entire crew of the Alfred Erlandsen, which ran aground on the treacherous Ebb Carrs. She repeatedly impressed upon the authorities the urgent need of a lifeboat at St Abbs.
MAY 2015 The RNLI announce station closure after 104 years. Campaigners urge for the decision to the reversed, voicing concerns over the rocky coastline popular with divers and crucial location of the station.
JULY 2015 ‘Show your support walk’ Protest in village, 100s march into harbour to show support for saving the station.
SEPTEMBER 2015 The RNLI remove the Atlantic 75 lifeboat from St Abbs, pagers are turned off and station closed. Supporters throw 230 flowers into the water to represent each life saved.
Villagers vow to carry on as an independent station, funding and campaigning begin.
NOVEMBER 2015 £10,000 is donated by Boyd Tunnock of tea cake fame. The committee phone to thanks him for his generous donation, where he offers a further £250,000 if the boat could be named ‘The Thomas Tunnock’ after his grandfather.
MARCH 2016 The order for a new boat is placed with Marine Specialised Technology to be built in Liverpool
JULY 2016 Crew kits arrive at the station. The boat arrives in St Abbs. Mr Tunnock visits for a sneak preview.
AUGUST 2016 The first rescue? While training the crew pass a fisherman with propeller problems on his boat. The training exercise promptly turned to towing practice to assist.
SEPTEMBER 2016 Launch Day. Saturday 17 September 2016. A day of celebrations in the village, the boat will officially be named ‘The Thomas Tunnock’. Guests will include Boyd Tunnock and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
2018 The first ever lifeboat, the ‘Helen Smitton’ is currently being restored in Pembrokeshire with plans to return her to the water, and to visit St Abbs in the future.