RNLI volunteer crews are coming to the end of their training on the new Skegness lifeboat, the Joel and April Grunnill.
Visitors to the resort may still catch a glimpse of them on the new vessel today. Crews have also been training on a second boat on loan to the resort.
A spokesman told the Standard: “The second boat is RNLB Reg (13-07) and is from the RNLI relief fleet at Poole. She joined us from Lowestoft, where she’d been laid afloat (floating in the harbour) for a little while.
“Training has been going well. It’s important that it’s all finished by Sunday.”
Hundreds of people crowded on to the beach to watch the arrival of the Joel and April Grunnill last Saturday.
For RNLI supporter April Grunnill, it was an especially emotional day.
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 SkegnessApril Grunnill, RNLI supporter
Sge told the Standard: “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.”
Apil accompanied the new lifeboat on aboard the Lincolnshire Poacher lifeboat.
The Joel and April Grunnill is named in honour of April and her cousin, former crew and station chairman Joel, who died in 2014 and left a £1.5m legacy to the RNLI for a new lifeboat.
April, who also donated towards the lifeboat, said: “What a wonderful day! I was so proud to see our lifeboat arriving home in Skegness. 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.”
Accompanying them were all-weather lifeboats from Mablethorpe and Hunstanton, along with inshore lifeboats.
For some it was a sad day at they watched the current RNLI Mersey class all-weather lifeboat the Lincolnshire Poacher - which has served the coast since 1990, carrying out 352 rescues and saving 195 people - being launched for one of its final exercises to join the welcoming fleet.
But all eyes were on the state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat - the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by water jets instead of propellers. Designed by an in-house RNLI team, it is the most agile all-weather lifeboat in the charity’s fleet and has been developed with the safety and welfare of RNLI volunteer crews as a key priority.
Alan Fisher, Skegness RNLI Lifeboat operations manager, said he was also overwhelmed by the number of people who had turned out to welcome the new lifeboat. He said: “It’s an incredibly big deal for the town as well as the RNLI crew who will be operating it. The Lincolnshire Poacher has served the town well, but it’s like swapping a Ford Escort with a Ferrari.”
The new lifeboat’s arrival was the start of 10 days of further training for the crew. Mark Perry, senior launch and retrieve instructor from the Lifeboat College at Poole said: “Training will continue over the next week and we will then start passing out the crew.”
Lee Firman, RNLI manager for the area, said: “I will be back in 10 days to put the crew through a series of exercises and assess the competency of the crew and make sure they can work the lifeboat safely.”
The Lincolnshire Poacher will stay in service until the completion of the training and then be returned to Poole.
Members of the public will get a second opportunity to welcome the Joel and April Grunnill at its official naming ceremony on April 1, April Grunnill’s birthday.