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Weekend of celebrations for Torbay RNLI as station marks 150 years of lifesaving

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers at Torbay RNLI hosted a weekend of celebrations to mark their 150th anniversary.

The celebrations began on Friday evening when a formal naming ceremony and service of dedication was held for Torbay RNLI’s new D class lifeboat Leslie & Mary Daws.

Hundreds of people gathered in the sunshine as the new inshore lifeboat, funded by a generous donation from Mr Bob Daws and named in memory of his parents, was officially handed over to Torbay RNLI.

RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity and handed her into the care of Torbay RNLI, accepted by Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, Nick O’Brien.

Nick said: ‘This D class lifeboat has been designed and built to the rigorous standards of the institution and will keep our crews safe as they go afloat to help others. On behalf of us all at Torbay RNLI I’d like to wholeheartedly thank Mr Bob Daws whose generosity has ensured that the proud tradition of saving lives at sea will continue here in Brixham. It is with great pride that I’m delighted to accept this lifeboat into the care of Torbay RNLI.’

The service of dedication was led by Superintendent John Anderson, of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, and Mayor Gordon Oliver officially named the lifeboat Leslie & Mary Daws.

As part of the ceremony, Mr Hunter-Pease presented the station with an 150th anniversary vellum. RNLI Gold Badge awards were also presented to Maurice Gibbard, Dave Smithson, Barbara Smithson and Shirley Wheeler from the Brixham RNLI branch, and Keith Masters and John Shaddick from Paignton RNLI branch.

Following the ceremony a service of dedication took place, marking the work done by Torbay RNLI volunteers over the past 150 years. Then at dusk, supporters gathered on the breakwater with lanterns for the ‘Light up the Breakwater’ event.n the breakwater with lanterns for the ‘Light up the Breakwater’ event.

A flotilla of old lifeboats were moored next to the all-weather lifeboat for the duration of the weekend celebrations, proudly decorated in bunting and RNLI flags.

Saturday was an action-packed day at Brixham Rugby Club as Torbay RNLI hosted a family fun day, with everything from motorcross displays, a giant T-Rex dinosaur and a crew baking challenge! In the evening local bands took to the stage entertaining hundreds in the crowd.

On Sunday the festivities were back at the lifeboat station where there were classic lifeboats to see, stalls, a duck race, BBQ and search and rescue demonstration. There was also a five mile sponsored run, which the RNLI’s very own mascot Stormy Stan took part in!

In the middle of the action ashore, Torbay RNLI volunteers were paged three times. On Saturday, the newly named D-class lifeboat Leslie & Mary Daws was put to sea at 10.50am to reports of a kayaker who had been in the water for some time as his kayak became swamped. The casualty was retrieved from the water and transferred to Paignton Harbour to an awaiting ambulance.

Then on Sunday the all-weather lifeboat was launched twice, firstly at 5.50am and then again at 11.50am to a yacht 22 miles east of Berry Head taking on water. The yacht was towed to Brixham Harbour and the lifeboat returned at 4.30pm. Shortly after returning to station, both Torbay and Teignmouth lifeboats took part in a search and rescue demonstration, marking the end of Lifeboat Week and the 150th anniversary events for August.

Notes to editors

A selection of photos from the ceremony are attached. Credit Nick Leach.

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For more information contact Emma Haines, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07786 668847 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk or the RNLI Duty Press Officer on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland