Cowes RNLI Lifeboat Station

RNLI on the Isle of Wight Was In Buoyant Form

14 October 2013

The RNLI’s good reputation and credibility on the Isle of Wight was alive and well as a result of the efforts made by stations, branches, guilds and the Inshore Lifeboat Centre, it was reported at the 151st annual meeting of the Island’s Lifeboat Board.

“Excellent press coverage, almost every week, is maintaining great respect for the professionalism of our lifeboat crews,” board Hon Secretary Lesley Myland said last Saturday at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes. As far as fund-raising was concerned, the Isle of Wight accounted for nearly 50 percent of RNLI income of the six cluster groups in the south region. This was an encouraging statistic, even allowing for the fact that there was a concentration of stations etc in a small area.

The RNLI’s Business Support and Development Director Angela Rook said nationally the RNLI had its busiest summer for 24 years, with 3,500 call-outs and 14,500 lifeguard incidents. The Island’s craft were called out 96 times.

The RNLI plans to build and repair all-weather lifeboats at its own factory currently being built in Poole. “The RNLI is moving forward and meeting challenges, none of which would be possible without the support of the fundraisers.”

Tim Woodcock, the board’s Hon Treasurer, revealed in his report (he was absent for health reasons) that gross receipts during 2012 (not including Cowes Station Appeal receipts) increased by some £12,000 to £335,000 (including souvenir sales of £102,330).

Of the station reports for the current year, Michael Samuelson, Bembridge’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, said the 19 shouts so far included the challenging task of evacuating a workman suffering a minor stroke, from No Mans Fort. In addition an 81 year old Austrian woman with a suspected heart attack had to be taken off a cruise liner.

Members were very pleased with the refurbished inshore boathouse at Bembridge, opened in early June. A large display screen for the offshore boathouse was a great hit with visitors. Also now opened was the new shop.

Mark Southwell, Cowes’ Lifeboat Operations Manager, said like all Island stations, Cowes had a quieter time this year, with 40 call-outs so far. It now had 25 boat crew, and was involved in a number of non-operational events including festivals, the Cowes carnival.  Some crew members boarded Dover lifeboat to greet Natasha Lambert when she finished her cross-Channel sail. Public openings of the station were being extended.

Jeremy Willcock, Deputy Launch Officer at Yarmouth station, recalled how the lifeboat was involved in five incidents within one hour during this year’s Round the Island Race. More recently, the great value of film-footage was demonstrated when the crew of a fishing boat were rescued from a life raft after their fishing boat sank near Christchurch Ledge.

The board meeting learned that the Inshore Lifeboat Centre at East Cowes had built five Atlantic 85 RIBs and seven D Class craft, as well as refitted or modernised over 50 craft.

The Bembrdge Guild (John Gulliver) said thousands of visitors visited the new station, and an opera evening in the new inshore boathouse proved such a success that the performers want to come back. Cowes Guild (Diana Chillcott) disclosed the final sum raised for the local station appeal was £850,000 of which nearly a quarter was raised on the Island, with the guild collecting over £71,000 of this. East Cowes Branch (Helen Wilkinson) boosted its local money-raising with popular fish and chip suppers.

The board President, the Island’s Lord Lieutenant, Major General Martin White, presented a bronze badge to long serving Cowes guild member Marilyn Rose. Other bronze badges, to Cowes Guild Hon Secretary, Sandra Fussell, and Back of Wight Chairman, Michael Hammond, were presented elsewhere. Also attending the board meeting was the Chairman, Lady Sally Pigot.


Marilyn Rose receives her bronze badge from board president Major General Martin White. 

Author: George Chastney, Lifeboat Press Officer.

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