Lifeboat named after diver

SEAHOUSES' new inshore lifeboat was officially named on Saturday in honour of a West Midlands man who died in a diving accident.

The 30,000 D-class lifeboat is named Peter Downes in memory of the Sutton Coldfield banker who died following the incident in the English Channel in 2002.

Mr Downes' wife Carolyn McLaughlin, who has now remarried, felt something positive should come out of her husband's death and, with the help of Peter's brother Michael, started to raise money for the RNLI. They provided a D-class lifeboat for Pwllheli lifeboat station in Wales and one for Seahouses which was delivered in January.

Mrs McLaughlin officially named the lifeboat, accompanied by a number of young relations, godchildren and friends, during a special ceremony at the lifeboat station.

She said: "Peter was a very positive, forward-thinking person. Because he had been such a popular and well-respected person, both at work and in the diving fraternity, so many people wanted to do something to contribute towards the project.

"Too many have participated to the successful outcome to single out anyone particularly. Suffice to say, their efforts have been varied and interesting. I believe the highly successful fund-raising has been partly because of the love and respect so many people had for Peter, but also because the RNLI as a charity is funded purely by donations and legacies.

The lifeboat is an updated version of the lifeboat station's former D-class – one of the workhorses of the RNLI fleet – and is known as the Inshore Boat 1 (IB1). It has improved speed and manoeuvrability, with a top speed of 25 knots.

The lifeboat was formally accepted on behalf of the lifeboat station by Ian Clayton, Seahouses RNLI lifeboat operations manager, who said the Peter Downes has already proved a great asset.

He said: "It is faster and more capable than our previous inshore lifeboat, and has already been involved in seven services, including the search for a missing diver in May. As a charity, the RNLI couldn't exist without the generosity and support of people like Mrs McLaughlin and her friends and family.

"We are very much looking forward to welcoming them all to Seahouses and to thanking them for raising the funds to provide us with our new lifeboat."