The sun shone down on Newhaven the weekend before last as more than 2,000 attended the annual Lifeboat Summer Fête.
The event was officially opened by Seaford Town Crier, Peter White, and Mayor of Newhaven, Steve Saunders.
Cllr Saunders made a speech confirmed RNLI Newhaven as one of the Mayor’s Charities of the Year and thanking the many local businesses who provided support by way of sponsorship of the event expenses or donating fabulous raffle prizes.
Over the course of the afternoon, it is estimated more than 2,000 people attended the fête and enjoyed displays from Haven Harmonies, Norcross Dancers, Earthquake Drum Collective and Russells Kick Boxing.
The Lifeboat House was open on the day and many people took the opportunity to visit the boathouse and speak to the volunteer crew about their duties, while being entertained by Newhaven Maestro.
Coxswain Paul Legendre said: “The atmosphere at Huggetts Green and at the boathouse was superb with everyone enjoying a great day out while learning about the RNLI message to Respect The Water.”
Although final figures have yet to be confirmed, the fête has raised more than £4,500 for RNLI Newhaven.
The following day, for the second consecutive year, the Coastguard Helicopter was able to join the Newhaven Lifeboat for the on-water display at Seaford Bay.
Unfortunately, the inclement weather resulted in fewer than usual people watching from the beach, but those who did brave the wind and rain had the treat of an excellent display while listening to the incredibly informative live commentary provided by very knowledgeable Sea Safety Officer, Bill Walton.
The appreciative crowd donated a further £162.07.
Newhaven Lifeboat has been operating from Beachy Head to Brighton for more than 200 years, making it one of the oldest lifeboat stations in the country. Formed some 21 years before the Royal National Lifeboat Institution itself, it celebrated its 200th Anniversary in May 2003.
Today, the station operates a Severn class lifeboat - the RNLB David and Elizabeth Acland, named after Mr David Acland DL who was a member of the RNLI’s committee of management for 34 years and its chairman from 1996 to 2000.
The Severn Class lifeboat is the largest of the current RNLI fleet being 17 metres long overall and just under 6 metres wide at the widest point. Newhaven’s Severn Class lifeboat was the 21st to be built, in October 2009, at a cost of £1.8 million.
Newhaven RNLI is twinned with their French colleagues of Le Havre Lifeboat and are proud of the connection with their friends of the Societe National de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM). The crews have had several mutual exchange visits between stations.
Since the station was established, 19 medals for gallantry have been awarded - ten silver medals and nine bronze. In addition, two framed letters of thanks have been awarded, to Coxswain Leonard Patten for the rescue of five crew from the fishing vessel “La Francoise” in a violent storm in October 1987, and to Coxswain Ian Johns for his part in saving two people swept out to sea in August 2006.
In 1940, the Cecil and Lilian Philpott was one of the 19 RNLI lifeboats that took part in the evacuation of British Forces from Dunkirk. In 2003, a Vellum was awarded to commemorate 200 years as a lifeboat station.
The Newhaven Lifeboat station and recently-completed new boathouse is classed as an ‘Explore Station’, which allows member of the public free access to go inside, look around the station and see the lifeboat.
All lifeboat stations have the same basic team of individuals who between them, keep the service running at local level, known as The Branch. These posts are completely unpaid - surprising perhaps when you consider they provide a 24-hour on-call service to save lives at sea.
For more information on the work of the Newhaven lifeboat, visit www.newhavenlifeboat.co.uk.
For details about the RNLI, go to http://rnli.org.
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