The new Atlantic 85 lifeboat will be named Renee Sherman, after a generous Wiltshire woman who left a gift to the RNLI in her will when she died in 2012.
Although Renée spent much of her life in Wiltshire, where she worked as a teacher, she was actually born in France, and was a young woman when the Dunkirk evacuation took place in 1940.
The new lifeboat replaced the station’s old inshore lifeboat, which reached the end of its operational life earlier this year.
That lifeboat, named Blue Peter 1, was funded by viewers of the popular children’s television show of the same name, and was the third lifeboat funded by viewers of the programme.
Following crew training and familiarisation, the Renee Sherman was operational just four days after her arrival, going into service on 20 May. Since then she has been launched on 21 rescues.
Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station, said:
“Renée was a very cultured lady, with a love of books and literature, and she was interested in the work of various charities. She was always very generous and thought highly of the RNLI.
The new lifeboat was originally going to be named after Renée’s husband, Jack Sherman.
He was Jewish and lived in Germany, but managed to escape to Britain during the war, which is documented in surviving letters to his family.
However, a friend of the couple, Peter Lee, persuaded her to name the lifeboat after herself. Mr Lee, a former navigator in the Royal Air Force who served in India, will officially name the lifeboat on Saturday.
Mr Lee said: “Renee’s husband was set on donating a lifeboat to the RNLI and when he passed away she wanted to carry on his will of support, hence the donation to the RNLI. Neither of them ever had any experience of the charity, they just really admired the RNLI’s lifesaving work, which speaks volumes about its reputation.
“I’ve always been a supporter of the RNLI and I’m looking forward to the naming at Littlehampton. I think the RNLI do a fantastic job, as did Renée and her late husband, and I feel this will be a fitting legacy to her”, he added.
The ceremony will take place this Saturday, September 10, at 3pm.
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