A Fascinating display of Historic Lifeboats plus the police exercising with Weston-super-Mare Lifeboats made the Open Day one to remember
Each year Weston-super-Mare RNLI volunteers, from the crew and fundraisers, hold an Open Day to show the public what they do. This year the Open Day was over a split site as it involved both our temporary lifeboat station at Knightstone and our Lifeboat shop at Anchor Head. As well as displays and demonstrations on land from the crew, coastguard and ambulance personnel plus stalls and souvenirs the main action was at sea.
The visitors were first of all treated to an exciting demonstration by the sinister looking black police RIB from Portishead. This showed how they overtook and boarded a boat which might have carried contraband. However as they boarded, one of the occupants of the boat fell overboard. This brought out the three Weston RNLI lifeboats which quickly rescued the casually, treated him on board for hypothermia and then delivered him to the ambulance personnel waiting on the shore. It was not obvious what happened to the suspects on the boat after this!
As this demonstration was complete the onlookers could see some interesting vessels approaching Weston Bay. These were the six historic lifeboats parading in front of them. The lifeboats were on their way to a summer cruise but had called in on Weston to support the RNLI. There were three Liverpool class lifeboats, the Always Ready (1933), The Chieftain (1948) and the William Cantrell Ashley(1949). These were accompanied by two Watson class lifeboats the Pentland (1957) and the Richard Vernon and Mary Garforth of Leeds(1956). Also the Mary Irene Millar (1989), a Tyne Class no longer on active service, kept them all company.
These saviours of the seas sailed closely past the waiting crowds on two occasions. They caused much excited comment from the enthusiastic visitors on the shore. After some time they were just about to depart on their cruise when an ITV cameraman arrived. The boats very kindly sailed around in a circular pattern, until the cameraman was ready, to ensure he got a good sight of them.
After lunch there was a repeat of the police boat incident. Then followed another demonstration of a rescue of a casualty who had fallen on some rocks, unreachable from land, with a rising tide. Again the Weston lifeboats saved him.
The visitors to the Open Day saw a wide ranging display of current and historic RNLI activity. They came away enthralled and well aware of the vital importance of the RNLI to Weston Bay.
Charlotte Conroy, Lifeboat Operations Manager said; ’These days are useful as a means of raising funds but they are equally important as a vehicle to raise our profile with the public without whom there would be no RNLI. This is particularly important in Weston where we are in desperate need of a new boathouse. This we could not do without public support. We are extremely grateful to the police boat and the historic lifeboat owners for helping us get this message across.’