New Sheerness RNLI lifeboat named in honour of a much loved family member
The new Sheerness RNLI inshore lifeboat has been named Buster after a 99-year-old man who loved “messing about in boats.”
The D-class rigid inflatable with a top speed of 25 knots was delivered to Sheerness on August 11 and has already been on 34 call-outs. Buster replaces the previous D class lifeboat Eleanor which had helped the volunteer crew of the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat station save lives off the Kent coast for the last ten years.
On Sunday 23 April 2017 more than 100 volunteer crew, supporters and friends of the RNLI gathered in Queenborough park to give the 5m-long rescue boat its name.
Brian Mills, Buster’s son who sprayed champagne over the bows of the £52,000 boat, said: “It was a very proud moment for me to name the boat after my late father. He died two years ago just short of his 100th birthday but throughout his 99-year life he loved boating, either on the Thames or on the sea around the south coast.”
The money was donated by the Audrey Wilson Charitable Settlement set up by Buster’s sister, and Brian’s aunt, Audrey. She said: “Several members of my family, including Brian, are keen sailors so it is comforting to know that by supporting the RNLI we are helping the crews should we, and others, run into difficulties at sea.
“Buster is a wonderful name for a lifeboat which will be bursting through the waves to a rescue. It is also a lasting tribute to my brother who loved messing about in boats. He would have been overwhelmed by this.”
Buster was given his name by his father in memory of a friend who was killed on the battlefields of the First World War.
Malcolm Vincent, the RNLI’s vice-president, said:” it costs almost £500,000 a day (£177 million a year) to keep the service’s 349 boats at sea. The RNLI could not exist in its present form if it was not for generous donations such as this and the terrific dedication of our army of fundraisers.”
The outdoor service included a blessing from the Rev Keith McNicol, padre of Sheppey Sea Cadets, and music from the Sheppey St John Ambulance band. The mayor of Swale Cllr Lesley Ingham and Queenborough Cllr Mick Constable were present with the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Paul Austin.
Sheerness RNLI lifeboat coxswain Robin Castle said: “As coxswain I oversee the safety of the crew and others. They will have peace of mind as this lifeboat will help keep them safe as they go about saving others.I would like to thank the donors for their generosity. They have not only given us a lifeboat we are all proud of and which will be a lifesaver but also a further cash donation which is to be used for funding the intensive and continuous training of our existing volunteer crew members and also the training of any new volunteers who would like to become part of the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat ‘family’ ”
One of 'Buster's' first jobs was helping other emergency services in the search for a missing teenager, Ben Savage.
Unfortunately the outcome was very sad for all concerned and especially the family of the missing boy. To show their appreciation of the many hours the RNLI lifeboat volunteers put in searching for Ben, over a number of days and nights, his parents Tara and Martin were present at the naming ceremony of the new lifeboat where they presented coxswain Robin Castle and Chairman of the Lifeboat committee Andy Wilmore with a cheque for £300 which will be used to update safety equipment.
Sheerness has two lifeboats, the D-799 and the offshore Trent-class George and Ivy Swanson. Last year the Sheerness crew launched 83 times, rescued 86 people and saved four lives.
The lifeboats are based in Sheerness harbour and cover the Medway, Swale and Thames Estuary. It costs £2,418 to kit out each crew member with the appropriate protective clothing.
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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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Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland