The volunteer lifeboat crew at St Abbs have agreed to take back the pagers they use in emergencies and continue to respond to call-outs.
Last week the volunteers, angry at the RNLI’s decision to shut down the station this summer and use the Eyemouth boats as cover, had turned in the pagers.
Angus Skene, Deputy Launching Authority, who oversees the lifeboat as it goes out, had said last week that the 14 strong crew and onshore volunteers would no longer use the lifeboat to respond to emergencies, and would instead use their own boats.
But the crew agreed to take back their pagers after a meeting on Friday night (May 15).
The crew members felt they had to do so ahead of the busy summer diving season, but pledged to continue campaigning to save the station.
A spokesperson said: “With another busy weekend of diving, water sports, fishing and walking looming, and a bank holiday due next weekend [May 25], they felt they could not leave users of this stretch of coastline vulnerable and without the vital and swift coverage their Atlantic 75 lifeboat provides”.
The RNLI said changes in technology - not cost cutting - mean the station is no longer needed, and they can provide a better service by closing it, adding an extra lifeboat to the Eyemouth station two miles away: “This review hasn’t been about putting any sort of cover into jeopardy, it is about making the best use of our resources in the area, and it is about making sure the funds that our supporters give us are spent wisely where they are needed so we get a good layout of stations around our coast.”
Paul Crowe, helmsman for 19 years, said retaining the station was “a peace of mind thing” to have when going out on the water, and stressed that the running costs of the station at St Abbs were well below the national average.
“The RNLI are suggesting the service won’t be affected by the change,” he said, “but we find that to be just completely untrue.”
Crew committee member Euan Gibson said: “While the doors are still open to the launching station, we will fight this decision. “This is not about pride or anything like that. It’s purely about the fact that this change will put lives in danger.” The pair stressed the unique nature of the coastline to the north of St Abbs, and the fact that predominant wind conditions would make it more difficult for an Eyemouth boat to reach emergencies.
“The majority of dive boats and fishing boats both go north of St Abbs,” said Euan. “In case of an emergency, time - seconds - is crucial. As well as that, the local knowledge that the crew here have, years and years all together, is something that you just cannot afford to lose.”
Euan added people don’t have to go far from the harbour to be in serious danger.
“There is a good spot for free diving just the other side of the harbour wall,” he said, pointing out the spot, less than 50 yards from the lifeboat station. “And it’s not been unknown for people to need our help there. If we weren’t the first on the scene in that scenario, then who would be?”
Meanwhile, the online petition against the station’s closure has been signed by more than 2,900 people.
To add your name, go to www.change.org/p/rnli-keep-st-abbs-lifeboat-station-open.
The video above shows the St Abbs and Eyemouth boats working together recently to rescue a diver, on what Paul Crowe described as a deceptively calm day at sea.