New lifeboat joins jubilee celebrations

The Diamond Jubilee is launched into the River Tamar in Plymouth
The Diamond Jubilee is launched into the River Tamar in Plymouth

THE brand new £2.7 million lifeboat destined for Eastbourne has been launched and is now being made ready for a jaunt down the River Thames as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

The Tamar-style lifeboat took to the water for the very first time last week – 60 years to the day that the Queen first sat on the throne.

To mark the connection, the boat has been called Diamond Jubilee and will be one of more than 1,000 vessels set to take part in a pageant on the Thames this summer.

On Sunday, June 3, the Diamond Jubilee will join what is set to be the largest flotilla in modern times to sail down the river, with boats of all shapes and sizes taking part and the line-up estimated to stretch a mammoth 12.5 miles.

A selected few will be on board on the big day, including Eastbourne volunteers coxswain Mark Sawyer and mechanic Dan Guy.

That event will be the final part of the Eastbourne RNLI crew’s training on the new lifeboat.

She is expected to be in Eastbourne and ready for active service by the end of June. Paul Metcalfe, lifeboat operations manager at Eastbourne RNLI, said, “Occasions like this don’t come along every day.

“Not only will our crew receive a new Tamar lifeboat this year, she will proudly take her place in the very special Thames pageant, which celebrates our patron, the Queen’s, 60-year reign.

Given that the appeal for funds towards our new Tamar coincides with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it is an honour and a privilege that the lifeboat, and some of our crew, will be onboard and taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Eastbourne’s new Tamar lifeboat replaces the current all-weather lifeboat, which is almost 20 years old.

With a top speed of 25 knots – a crucial factor when lives are at risk – the Tamar enables the charity to save lives at sea even more effectively.

The cost of the £2.7 million lifeboat has been funded by two generous legacies and other local fundraising efforts, but the RNLI still needs to raise over £300,000 to fully fund the build.

The final part of fitting out the new Tamar took place at Babcock’s boat yard in Plymouth, where she was lifted by crane and placed in the water.

The boat will now undergo a series of detailed tests and trials, with crew training expected to begin in May.