PICTURES: Exmouth RNLI
07:00 18 May 2014
New Shannon class lifeboat arrives
Exmouth’s new state-of-the-art lifeboat arrived to a warm welcome as crowds of cheering well-wishers lined the shore.
The Shannon class jet-propelled lifeboat is the first of its kind in the South West - Exmouth RNLI is the second lifeboat station in the whole of the UK and Ireland to receive a Shannon class lifeboat.
The new boat - the R and J Welburn - was decked out in colourful nautical bunting and arrived flanked by a lifeboat flotilla.
Meeting the new member of the fleet were Exmouth RNLI’s operational lifeboats, Mersey class Margaret Jean and D-class George Bearman.
In the charity’s tradition of the outgoing lifeboat leading the incoming one, the station’s inshore lifeboat joined Teignmouth RNLI’s Atlantic 85-class The Two Annes.
Exmouth coxswain, Steve Hockings-Thompson landed the R and J Welburn straight on to the beach at a speed of 20 knots, to cheering crowds.
Steve gave waiting crowds a taste of what the new vessel could do; performing a number of movements on the water to demonstrate the agile manoeuvrability of the Shannon in shallow water.
The cheering continued when the Shannon launch and recovery system took the new vessel to the boathouse.
Mark Sansom, Exmouth RNLI mechanic, who was aboard the Shannon, said: “As we approached the beach, I couldn’t believe the number of people who had turned out to welcome us home.
“We had been away for five days’ training, since there’s a lot of extra commitment needed, taking us away from our families and work.
“It’s all well worth the effort to see the support from all that attended.”
Schools, local businesses, families and RNLI supporters from around the country stood on the shore to welcome the new boat.
Exmouth RNLI last week announced the success of an 18-month appeal to raise £150,000 towards the £1million cost of Shannon’s launch and recovery equipment.
Fundraising continued on the day. Stuart Line Cruises organised a Shannon sightseeing trip, donating the £253 proceeds. Refreshments sold by RNLI volunteers raised a further £150, plus £40 was donated by visitors.