New boat as season begins

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One of the UK’s last remaining independent lifeboat stations is looking to the future after taking delivery of a new, smaller lifeboat.

Boulmer Volunteer Rescue Service picked up the new vessel on Thursday, arriving back in the village in the early hours of Friday.

The new boat is a smaller version of their previous Tornado boat – five metres long instead of eight-and-half – and has a 40 horsepower engine instead of 300.

Chief coxswain Finlay Bowron said: “It’s the adequate vessel for what we do here – dealing with jetskis, windsurfers, people fishing on the rocks – close inshore work.

“Our remit before was quite a large area, but to be honest our area is really just here in the bay, so it’s easier, lighter, more nimble and fast to launch.

“It’s been a while since the last one was sold, waiting for the right boat and I think it’s the best we could have hoped for.”

The new vessel cost around £4,000, which had to be paid for through the crew’s own fund-raising efforts, but Finlay said that not many people could provide a lifeboat for that price.

And a number of the crew were down at the station on Friday, having taken time off work to get acquainted with the new boat, which has arrived in good time for the potentially busy summer season.

Last year, we reported that the service was facing dual threats to its future – a lack of funds and a shortage of volunteers.

The new boat is cheaper to run which helps on the first front, but more volunteers are needed including shore crew and fund-raisers.

There has been a lifeboat service in Boulmer for two centuries. A Royal National Lifeboat station was established in 1825, and before that, a boat was provided privately by the Duke of Northumberland.

When the RNLI withdrew its service in 1967, people living in the village teamed up to rescue the station – and they have been going it alone ever since. Mr Bowron said that while there are still RNLI stations at Amble and Craster, the crew feels it is important that there is a lifeboat to watch over people using the Boulmer bay.