It was a hero’s welcome when hundreds of people poured onto Skegness beach on a cold but sunny January day to see the RNLI’s new state-of-the-art lifeboat.
Our live coverage reached more than 270,000 people on social media from as far away as South Florida, who sent emotional messages to the brave volunteer crew who would be undergoing challenging training in the months ahead to keep our shores safe.
Among the messages was one from Jackie Renshaw, of Kirkby in Ashfield, who said: “Well needed and an amazing addition for Skegness RNLI. X heroes in my eyes.”
But, none on the messages were more emotional than the words of stalwart fundraiser April Grunnill, cousin of RNLI volunteer Joel Grunnill whose legacy made the arrival of the £2.2 million Shannon class lifeboat a reality.
“What a wonderful day! I was so proud to see our lifeboat arriving home in Skegness, she said. “I first saw her in Poole, at the RNLI headquarters, and felt very emotional the first time I saw our names on the side of the lifeboat, but today I just tried to enjoy the occasion. I couldn’t believe the number of people on the beach waiting to see her arrive – I was so thrilled to see that it meant so much to people in Skegness.”
Since that memorable day on Saturday, January 28, last year there have been 45 training launches – a sign of the commitment and dedication shown by the volunteer crew to training on the new boat and its advanced systems, compared with the station’s Mersey class lifeboat
This increased training regime of 150 hours is necessary to keep skills as sharp as possible, and doesn’t include launches.
“2017 has been a year that saw big challenges in terms of both commitment to continued training on the station’s new Shannon class lifeboat and a busy year of service launches,” said Coxwain Richard Watson.
“This bar has been raised by all of the station’s volunteers, and it’s been fantastic to be part of the dedication and drive that they’ve all shown. This includes seagoing crew, shore crew and volunteer fundraisers. It has been fantastic team effort.
“With the introduction of vessels like the Shannon into service, demands on volunteers are very high and will continue to be intense, I’m really blown away by the commitment of all involved.
Mr Watson also paid tribute to the community and Tesco for their continued support - including two of the most recent fundraising efforts of £4,469.43 from Lace Housing and a Skegness Triathlon club presentation of £7,500.
He said: “We’ve always been very fortunate to have a huge swell of support from the local community, and this year has continued in the same vein with a sensational response from local groups and individuals.
“The RNLI relies solely on donations in order to exist and the support we receive from everyone is truly humbling, whether its donations of time, of money or just kind comments, they all keep us saving lives at sea, Thank you all very much.”
l A recruitment drive is soon to be launched for both shore crew, fundraisers and sea going volunteers. Anyone interested can apply online at http://www.rnliskegness.org.uk/news/612/want+to+be+an+rnli+volunteer%3f/