2nd May 2016
Duty called in two different directions on Saturday for Penny Maclean when she had to temporarily put aside organising a major Cowes Lifeboat Station fun day to concentrate on overseeing the launch of the lifeboat to a genuine ‘shout’.
It was while Penny, as Visits Team Officer, was organising Yellow Welly Day that a call from Solent Coastguards came through, requesting that the lifeboat search for a broken down RIB in the Solent.
Immediately she switched roles to become the on–duty Deputy Launching Authority, to approve the launch and monitor the lifeboat’s operations.
“I have only recently been made a DLA and this was my first ‘shout’,” she said. “Immediately the station had to go into operational mode. I had to leave other volunteers to prepare for Yellow Welly Day as the crew got themselves and the boat ready for launching.”
“Fortunately for all concerned the emergency call came some 50 minutes prior to the public being allowed to pour into the station and enjoy the many attractions on The Parade.”
As it turned out the lifeboat crew never managed to locate the RIB, later learning it had been towed to safety by a passing fishing boat. The lifeboat eventually returned to station at 10.20, allowing the first visitors to witness a real-life boat recovery operation.
About 400 members of public visited the station over the six hours it was open; many of them using the chance to view the lifeboat close-up and to talk to crew members. Upstairs visitors could enjoy refreshments and take part in a raffle, and youngsters could take part in a yellow welly colouring competition. Meanwhile visits team members gave out leaflets in the streets publicising the event, accompanied by Stormy Sam (inside of which was crew member Graham Creagh).
Visits team member Jen Hastings with the RNLI’s Stormy Stan.
Penny said the day went very well despite other attractions including at Northwood Park and in Yarmouth. It was supported not only by the Cowes RNLI Guild and East Cowes Branch but also other emergency services; the Needles-based Coastwatch had a display in the station, and on The Parade were a fire appliance and an ambulance, while Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat and a police launch were tied alongside Trinity Landing. The Coastguard helicopter also put in an appearance.
Other contributors deserving special thanks were local restaurant owner Rod Ainge who provided ample sandwiches and cakes for those taking part in the day, and local shops who donated raffle prizes.
An additional reason for celebration came at the end of the Open Day when two members of the lifeboat, Deputy Launching Authority Dave Lewis and crew member Mark Harker, arrived on The Parade after participating in the 65 mile Isle of Wight Ultra Challenge from Chale. The pair completed 50 miles of the event before Mark felt unable to carry on, and they took a taxi back to Cowes from Ryde. Their efforts, however, still raised useful funds for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.
Author: George Chastney, Lifeboat Press Officer.