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Big weekend for Staithes RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Big crowds are expected to descend on Staithes on Saturday when the Staithes and Runswick RNLI station’s brand new £235,000 lifeboat is formally named.

Staithes' new lifeboat Sheila & Dennis Tongue III at sea

RNLI/Colin Harrison

Staithes' new lifeboat Sheila & Dennis Tongue III at sea
She will be christened Sheila & Dennis Tongue III in honour of the late donor family whose will left a major bequest to the RNLI that has so far funded three new lifeboats.

And to round off an Easter weekend of lifeboat celebrations at Staithes, TV’s Caroline Hawley, star of BBC’s Bargain Hunt and Flog It, will be hosting Sunday night’s popular annual RNLI charity auction at the Cod and Lobster pub.

Staithes’ new state of the art Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat is the fastest in the RNLI fleet with a top speed of 35 knots. Other improvements compared to the outgoing lifeboat include radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors.

Since coming on service in December the new lifeboat has already been active with a series of rescues. Staithes previous lifeboat Pride of Leicester was the busiest in the station’s history with nearly 200 launches and more than 150 people rescued in a decade of service.

Saturday’s ceremony, outside the station boathouse, will feature the North Skelton Band and the Men of Staithes choir. Special guests include The Marquess of Normanby, President of the station, and the Marchioness, Charles Hunter-Pease, a former chairman of the RNLI and now a trustee of the charity, and numerous former crew members marking more than 40 years of the station’s history, all culminating with the traditional spraying of champagne on the new boat.

Neil Anderson, chairman of Staithes and Runswick RNLI, said: ‘The naming of a new lifeboat has always been a very special ceremony for both Staithes and Runswick and all are welcome to come along and attend. Our station has a long and illustrious history and we look forward to a new era of saving lives at sea with this splendid new lifeboat. In particular, I must pay tribute to the remarkable generosity of the donor family who have funded it and we’re delighted to be welcoming their relatives and all our guests to Staithes on Saturday.’

The late donors Sheila and Dennis Tongue were born in Birmingham in the 1920s and on Dennis’s retirement they moved to Devon where they lived until their eighties, overlooking the coast. The couple did not have any children and it was during their retirement that they came to know and admire the work of the RNLI and recognise its place in the life of the communities it served. Raymond Tongue, a nephew of the Tongue’s, will formally hand over the lifeboat to the RNLI and his wife Susan will perform the naming.

The ceremony begins at 2pm on Easter Saturday at the RNLI boathouse on the Cowbar side of Staithes.

The celebrations will be rounded off on Sunday night with the annual RNLI charity auction at the Staithes’ iconic harbourside pub, the Cod and Lobster.

Auctioneer Caroline Hawley, a regular on screen expert on antiques for the BBC, will be knocking down more than 70 lots. She will be wielding the hammer for the third successive year and said: ‘It’s a really fun night and as I’m both very fond of Staithes with long-standing family connections to the village and also a huge fan of the inspiring work of the volunteer crews of the RNLI, I’m just delighted to be back.’

Among the star items are a boat trip up the coast on the launch of the River Tees pilots, an underground tour of the Cleveland Potash mine, the deepest in Western Europe with tunnels stretching 10 miles out under the North Sea, a stadium tour of Middlesbrough F.C., visits to Flamingo Land theme park and the Beamish Museum.

There are vouchers for meals for two at a series of local and regional restaurants and pubs. A selection of paintings include work by leading local artists, Rob Shaw, Ian Burke and Sue Nichol.

RNLI fund raising manager Stuart Purdie said: ‘It’s one of the great events of the Staithes year and we’re all set for a cracking night, and with both quality and quantity in the lots there should be something for everyone. We’re out to beat last year’s record sum of £2,600. Big thanks to all our very generous donors and to Caroline for giving up her valuable time.’

The first lot goes under the hammer at 8.30pm on Sunday night.


Antiques expert and BBC star Caroline Hawley

RNLI/Caroline Hawley

Antiques expert and BBC star Caroline Hawley

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