The bid to bring a Shannon class lifeboat to Lytham
- Credit: RNLI
Barbara Anne will take the place of HM The Queen on the Fylde coast. Paul Mackenzie reports
It may not look much like it at the moment but this is the new lifeboat that will be saving lives off the Lancashire coast. The Barbara Anne is now being built at the RNLI’s base in Dorset and will be delivered to the St Annes lifeboat station early next year.
Named after RNLI supporter Barbara Anne Cameron Roberts, the boat will replace the charity’s current vessel, HM The Queen. She will be used to help protect the area of sea from Hoylake on the Wirral to Fleetwood, and out west as far as the Isle of Man. A smaller inshore boat is kept at Lytham lifeboat house.
Miss Cameron Roberts, from Winchester, left the RNLI £2m when she died in 2013 and RNLI volunteers are now fundraising for the remaining £275,000 to cover the coat of the new boat.
Head launcher David Forshaw said: ‘Our present boat is a Mersey class and she is still an excellent boat but the new Shannon class boat is much more advanced. It is half as fast again as the Mersey so there is the potential to save more lives, she is far more manoeuvrable and the new launching system means she is safer and easier to launch.
‘The current launch system is 200 years old – it’s simple and it works but five people need to be on deck and it can be dangerous in bad weather. With the new technology of the new system, the crew can be safely strapped in. Quite simply, it’s a magic boat.’
Shannon class lifeboats have already been delivered to Hoylake and Fleetwood and the RNLI hopes that each of the North West lifeboat stations will have the new boats by 2021.
The boat which will be delivered to the St Annes station in February is currently in two parts – the hull and the deck are built separately and partly kitted out before they are glued together.
The new boats, which can reach 25 knots, are driven by high powered water jets and David added: ‘The jets give the boat extra power and mean there are no propellers or rudders for stray ropes, debris or nets to get tangled around.
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‘The jets push out one and a half tonnes of water through adjustable nozzles every second and mean the boat is much faster and far more manoeuvrable so it will be easier for the crew to take her alongside other boats if they need to rescue people. It can stop dead in the water, change direction quickly and it has a very small turning circle.’
And Lytham RNLI Coxswain Gary Bird said: ‘We are very attached to our Mersey and she’s served us well for many years, but everyone at the station is very excited at the prospect of receiving a Shannon. It’s an incredible lifeboat and the advanced technology means we’ll be able to reach people in trouble at sea a lot more quickly than we can at the moment.
‘We know £275,000 is a lot of money to raise but people in Lancashire and across the north west have always been very supportive of the RNLI. I’m confident they will get behind the appeal and help us fund our new lifeboat, which will be saving lives off the Lancashire coast for many years to come.’
Fundraising for the new boat has so far raised about £100,000 and more activities are planned for the rest of the year. Lytham Community Choir are due to perform in the St Annes boathouse on July 1 and the crew will be attending a number of events across the Fylde through the summer.
To donate £5 instantly, text RNLI LYTHAM ST ANNES to 70300; to donate by phone, call 0300 300 9917; or to donate online go to RNLI.org/LythamStAnnesAppeal