Saturday (Sep 11) marked a new chapter in Pwllheli RNLI’s 130-year history as the volunteers celebrated the official boathouse opening and the naming and service of dedication of their new Shannon class lifeboat and launch and recovery system.
The ceremony began as RNLI volunteers, donors and invited guests were welcomed to Pwllheli by station Chair Alan Jones as everyone joined together on the beach to mark the triple celebration.
Charles Denton, the Godson and executor of the Richard Colton Estate, officially opened the new RNLI boathouse by unveiling a plaque as he declared the building open. Mr Colton left a generous and extraordinary gift to the charity by leaving two rare Ferraris to the RNLI in his Will. The two Ferraris sold at auction in 2015 for a total of £8.5M; with £2.8M of the amount donated to help fund Pwllheli’s new boathouse. The generous gift as well as a £100,000 community fundraising appeal ensured the new boathouse was completed earlier this year, moving the lifesaving operations to the new site at Glan y Don Industrial Estate.
The Shannon launch and recovery system was presented to the RNLI by Andrew Nicholson on behalf of John Llewellyn Mostyn Hughes, whose generous legacy funded the lifesaving equipment. John was a leading figure in the international business and technology communities and a lifelong lover of the sea and the RNLI. As a child, John spent family holidays in Moelfre and would often visit the local lifeboat station. It was Richard Evans, Moelfre’s Coxswain at the time who taught John how to sail.
The station’s new Shannon class lifeboat was presented to the RNLI by Roger Smith, the donor who funded the all-weather lifeboat. Roger, who was born in Tamworth in Staffordshire, developed an interest in sailing in the 1950s after his father bought a 13’ harbour launch. Over the years Roger has sailed the UK waters as well as venture further afield to the Caribbean.
The Shannon class lifeboat and Shannon launch and recovery system were both accepted into the RNLI’s lifesaving fleet by the charity’s Chief Executive, Mark Dowie. The all-weather lifeboat and launch and recovery system were then presented and handed over to the care of Clifford Thomas, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager on behalf of Pwllheli RNLI.
‘During my sailing activities I have always had the greatest confidence in the RNLI facilities. Whilst I have never had to call upon their help myself, I have been part of teams who helped yachts that were then handed over to the RNLI.
‘Life has been very kind to me, and the RNLI has agreed that I fund a Shannon all-weather lifeboat for Pwllheli. Whilst I have not spent much time in North Wales, I have the greatest of respect for all RNLI stations, their crews and fundraisers. The more I get to know the RNLI fundraisers and volunteer crews, the more admiration I have for them. Churchill said: ‘give me the tools’ and that is what I am proud to be doing.’
During the naming ceremony, Roger watched on proudly as the Shannon class lifeboat was officially named Smith Brothers by his granddaughter Poppy.
Alan Jones, Chair of Pwllheli RNLI Lifeboat Management Group said:
‘Today is a proud day for all at Pwllheli RNLI and the start of a new chapter in the station’s 130-year history. On behalf of all at Pwllheli RNLI I would like to thank everyone who has supported Pwllheli Lifeboat Station to help us get to where we are today, and make sure that our volunteer crew will be here to save lives for many years to come.’
Pic. Pwllheli RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboat Smith Brothers.RNLI/Dewi Wyn