Half-term visitors to Skegness have been treated to a glimpse of both old and new before the lifeboat that has served the coast well for 27 years leaves the resort for the last time.
The new £2.2m state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat went into service this week and was seen in action at the weekend on a training exercise, alongside the Lincolnshire Poacher, which has now been officially retired.
Thousands of spectators gathered on the beach last month to watch the arrival of the faster, water jet-propelled Joel and April Grunnill lifeboat.
Accompanying it to its new home in Skegness was the Mersey class Lincolnshire Poacher, which has carried out 352 rescues and saved 195 people since it arrived in 1990.
On board for the historic moment was local RNLI box secretary April Grunnill, who helped fund the lifeboat following the legacy left by former crew and station chairman Joel Grunnill, who sadly passed away in 2014. Both April and Joel have been lifelong supporters on the RNLI and the vessel is named in their honour.
At the end of Saturday’s training, a spokesman posted on the RNLI Skegness Facebook page: “What a day! As well as being rather chilly we have had a mixed bag of firsts and lasts. .
We are very excited and proud to announce that she is now officially Skegness Lifeboat and is ‘in service’RNLI spokesman
“Our very dedicated volunteers have had some hours at sea for final evaluation on our Shannon class lifeboat, Joel and April Grunnill and we are very excited and proud to announce that she is now officially Skegness Lifeboat and is ‘in service’.
“A huge well done to all of the lads and lasses on the boat and beach for a herculean effort over the past few months.
“With this wonderful news comes the end of an era, Alas, today sees the retirement of Mersey class lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher 12-008. Faithful and unfaltering she launched on exercise for the last time today. She will be missed.”
A RNLI spokesman told the Standard this morning that the Lincolnshire Poacher could be recalled to the RNLI headquarters in Poole any day.
The next big date for the Joel and April Grunnill is its official naming ceremony on April 1, which is April Grunnill’s birthday.