New £39k lifeboat goes to sea

The launch of the new lifeboat

The launch of the new lifeboat

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A NEW lifeboat worth £39,000 launched for the first time this week – thanks to a sizeable donation left by a long-time RNLI supporter.

Louise Hobbs passed away back in 1999 at the age of 96, leaving a large chunk of her estate to the RNLI here in Eastbourne.

The legacy was for the specific purpose of funding a replacement for their D-class inshore lifeboat when it reached the end of its serviceable life – which is why the cash is only now being used.

The new lifeboat, named Laurence and Percy Hobbs after Louise’s father, Laurence John Hobbs, and brother Percy, replaces the old inshore lifeboat, the Joan and Ted Wiseman 50, which has been in use since August 2003.

And Louise’s nephew, Ronald Hamlin, 92, was on hand to see the new boat take to the water for the first time earlier this week.

He said, “My aunt Louise was the youngest daughter of Laurence and his wife Eleanor. Laurence – my grandfather – was a merchant seaman, but beyond that there was no other family connection to the sea or the work of the RNLI. I gather Louise was just a great admirer of the lifesaving the RNLI does.

“Oddly enough, my own wife used to help fundraise for the lifeboats back when she was a young girl in Grimsby.

“Although she did not hail from Eastbourne, Louise moved to the town in later life with another of my aunts, Martha.

“I can only assume she used to see and hear about the town’s lifeboats launching and just had a great admiration for the crews and love for the town, hence she decided to leave a donation specifically for Eastbourne RNLI.”

Eastbourne’s outgoing D-class lifeboat, Joan and Ted Wiseman 50, was funded by Surrey-based couple Joan and Ted Wiseman, who wanted to mark their golden wedding anniversary in a special way. They donated funds for the lifeboat because Eastbourne held fond memories for them.

Joan and Ted Wiseman 50 was launched on service 337 times since taking up berth in Eastbourne, rescuing 194 people and saving six lives.