Friday, 27 August 2010

Margate lifeboat station prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday

Crew and supporters at Margate RNLI lifeboat station are preparing to commemorate a special occasion with 2010 marking 150 years of sea rescue services being provided by the RNLI in the town.

A day of celebrations are to be held on 29 August (bank holiday Sunday) with a more formal occasion later in the year when the RNLI will present the station with a framed 150th Anniversary Velum.

The day of activities will centre around the harbour and the piazza area adjacent to the old town area and highlights of the various activities will include;
Representative stalls from RNLI Sea Safety, HM Coastguard, Kent Police, and Kent Fire and Rescue will be on hand until around 5pm.

RNLI souvenir stall together with other craft stalls.

At 3pm both our own two lifeboats together with the Ramsgate lifeboat will carry out a rescue display in the harbour (call-outs permitting!).

Between 1pm and 9pm live music will be playing in the piazza area. Bands expected include; The KD Jazz and Dance Orchestra, The Bodegas, The Blox, Westcoast Soulstars and Physical Graffiti with a DJ playing in between the bands.

At some time during the day we are expecting the Kent Air Ambulance helicopter to make an appearance together with a fly past by the ever popular RAF Red Arrows display team
It is hoped the restored historic lifeboat William & Kate Johnston will be on display either in the harbour or on the main sands beach.

Nobody will go hungry! A burger stall, ice cream van and Caribbean food by Eli will be on hand to keep you going together of course with the many nearby bars and cafes surrounding this vibrant part of the town.

A Caribbean night is being laid on in aid of the RNLI at the Hussar public house at Westbrook. Starting at 4pm, the event will include Caribbean food, a basket ball shoot-out, coconut shy, limbo dancing and a surfboard simulator. From 8pm until midnight a band will be playing.

The West Coast public house has invited everyone along to continue the party later in the evening.

Although this is a day of celebration and commemoration the business of lifesaving at sea is a
serious and at times a hazardous and dangerous one and the courage and dedication of generations of lifeboat crews who have manned the town’s lifeboats over the last 150 years will not be far away in everyone’s mind.

Local boatmen had been putting to sea to rescue others for many years previously but it was in April1860 that the Lifeboat Institution (later to become the Royal National Lifeboat Institution) took over and stationed the first lifeboat in Margate named Angela and Hannah.

Since then the volunteer crews have provided a continuous service to the community manning the various RNLI lifeboats that have been stationed in the town.

Highlights of the station’s history include;

Continuous service throughout the Second World War, one of the busiest periods in the station’s history mainly rescuing the pilots of crashed aircraft. In September 1940 one such pilot Richard Hillary was rescued, he was a descendant of Sir William Hillary, founder of the institution.
In May 1940 the lifeboat The Lord Southborough took part in the evacuation of troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. 600 servicemen were rescued from the beaches.

In 1978 the town’s jetty was destroyed in a storm and the lifeboat North Foreland had to be rescued from the damaged boathouse.

In 1999 the current all-weather lifeboat, Leonard Kent, spent 31 hours at sea standing by after the collision between the container ship Ever Decent and the cruise ship Norwegian Dream.
There are presently two lifeboats stationed at Margate the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Leonard Kent and the IB1 class inshore lifeboat Tigger Three.

Currently there are 31 volunteer crewmembers (plus a full-time mechanic) who make up the operational team at the station.

The coxswain is Trevor Lamb who is a full-time commercial fisherman and the Lifeboat Operations Manager is Paul Hodson.

As important as the front line team are the fundraisers and the station has an active fund-raising branch.

Further information together with more detail of the station’s history can be found at; /rnli_near_you/east/stations/MargateKent.
Later in the year a formal dinner will be held locally when the RNLI will present the 150th

Anniversary Velum to the station.

Paul Hodson, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Margate says: 'This is an important year for the station as we commemorate the commitment and sacrifice of generations of volunteer lifeboat crews and of course our supporters who have maintained the traditions of the lifeboat service over the last 150 years.

'When we look at the pictures and artefacts chronicling our station history we all feel extremely proud and privileged to be involved in maintaining what is an important part of the local community. It is the special nature of the RNLI, with its unique voluntary ethos and relying totally on public donations that inspires our crews, fundraisers and supporters to serve the local as well as the wider seafaring community.'

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