Skiff follows in the wake of the original village lifeboat

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A traditional rowing boat which has been 18 months in the making was officially launched by the Duchess of Northumberland last weekend.

The Pride of Aln was created by the Alnmouth Bay Community Rowing Association with the project conceived by, funded by and made by people from the community.

Launch of the Alnmouth skiff, Pride of Aln

Launch of the Alnmouth skiff, Pride of Aln

The launch took place at the old boat shed at Alnmouth beach, which itself was provided by Northumberland Estates to house the original Alnmouth lifeboat.

More than 200 people turned out on Saturday to see the launch.

The Duchess said: “I am delighted to support this initiative.

“This boat represents the extraordinary public spirit of the people of Northumberland: having been conceived, funded and built by local residents, for the enjoyment of the whole community.

“I am looking forward to seeing people of all ages out on the water enjoying this very traditional activity, as well as seeing crews from other parts of the country attending regattas here at Alnmouth.”

She added: “More than 200 years ago the then Duke of Northumberland launched a rowing skiff, not dissimilar to this one, to be built as one of the first dedicated lifeboats in the world.”

Most of those involved had no previous experience of boat building and the few who did had never built a rowing skiff like this one before.

The 22ft vessel will be crewed by a variety of teams drawn from the community each made of five people, who can be of almost any age or ability.

Competitive events will be held against other communities with similar boats along the North East coast and beyond.

Saturday’s naming ceremony and launch included a blessing by the Vicar of Alnmouth and Lesbury, Ian McKarrill, the reading of a poem written about the boat, by Peter Athey, and traditional Northumberland pipe music, with the tune Pride of Aln, written by one of the pipers, Roy Hugman.

A maiden voyage and sea trials for the Pride of Aln will take place over the winter and the first team training will begin in the spring.