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12 November 2016, 12:18 | Updated: 12 November 2016, 12:20
One Of Poole Lifeboat's is Retiring. The City of Sheffield has helped rescue 650 people during it's time in service.
The City of Sheffield has been a major asset for all seafarers in and around Poole, moored alongside Poole Lifting Bridge, since September 2001 when it replaced the Brede class intermediate lifeboat.
It has been a pivotal part of Quay life, not only on call to save lives at sea but bringing Father Christmas to the Quay, carrying the official starter and adjudicator for the annual New Year Bath Tub Race, to joining in the fun on the town’s historic Harry Paye Day and the Fishermen’s Regatta.
The ‘big orange boat’ as the Quay visitors lovingly call her will be retired from the RNLI fleet, as Poole lifeboat station reassigns from an all-weather lifeboat station to an inshore lifeboat station.
From November 2016, the stretch of coast around Poole Bay and harbour will be served by the 25-knot Shannon class all-weather lifeboat at Swanage, the 25-knot Severn class at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and inshore lifeboats from Mudeford and Poole.
A new D class lifeboat will be stationed at Poole. Commonly known as the work horse of the RNLI, the D class is highly maneuverable and capable of 25 knots, it has the ability to operate at speed in the busy waters and ideal for the shallow areas within Poole Harbour. It will complement the work of the Atlantic 85 lifeboat Sgt Bob Martin which has been based at the station since 2008.
The 12th and last volunteer RNLI Coxswain of Poole lifeboat station, Jonathan Clark will take the wheel of the Tyne for her final launch, joined by other long serving crew members, 2nd Coxswain Andy Elton, Gavin McGuinness, Anne Millman, former full time station Mechanic Paul Taylor and mechanics; Wayne Belcher, Neil Ceconi, along with volunteer crew Oli Mallinson, Adrian Rosser and long serving volunteers and Deputy Coxswains Glen Mallen and Dave Riley.
The City of Sheffield will launch from Poole lifeboat station at 11am on 12 November when local seafarers will join them in a farewell flotilla as it leaves the Quay after a Blessing of Thanks by Poole lifeboat Chaplain Lucy Holt.
It will go on passage to Weymouth RNLI lifeboat station where the volunteer crew will go ashore and no doubt share a few yarns with the Weymouth volunteers. Weymouth was one of the first ports of call for the Tyne class lifeboat when it arrived on station in 2001. All lifeboats on arrival traditionally go on ‘shake down’ passages, an opportunity for the crew to familiarise themselves with the lifeboat, so it is fitting that this will be the City of Sheffield’s and many of the original volunteer crew’s final passage.
On Remembrance Sunday (13 November) the lifeboat will return to Poole Bay and rendezvous with the inshore lifeboat to lay a wreath, at the eleventh hour, as a mark of respect to remember and give thanks for all those who gave their lives for the sake of freedom in the two World Wars, and conflicts past around the world. To also remember those who still risk their lives in our Armed Forces on land and at sea.
The lifeboat will then moor alongside Poole Quay from 12pm to 2pm, to give the people of Poole the opportunity to have look at the lifeboat before it departs the Quay for the very last time.
Rod Brown, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Operation Manager says;
‘Though as a station we have known for a fair few years that this day is going to happen, you cannot prepare yourself as to how you are going to feel as the lifeboat has been a big part of the volunteers and fundraisers lives for the past 15 years, our lives have literally revolved around it. There have been some challenging times out on the water but the lifeboat never let us down. It would be great if people could join us either afloat on the water or come along to the quay to give her the send-off she deserves’.
Jonathan Clark, RNLI volunteer Coxswain of Poole lifeboat says;
‘There has been a lot of training going on to get the crew ready for the arrival of our new D class lifeboat and plans have been drawn up for the new floating boathouse which will be in situ when the bridge work has ended. I know back in 1998 when I officially became Coxswain, it was one of the proudest moments in my life, to be given the opportunity to take command of a Poole all-weather lifeboat was a privilege that few experience. I am very proud to have been the Coxswain and along with other crew and station volunteers, I will miss going out on the lifeboat and not seeing it alongside but that feeling of pride and honor of all that we have done, will always remain with me, you can’t take that away’.
The City of Sheffield has launched 557 times since arriving on station in 2001 and the number of people rescued (including lives saved) is 650. The committed volunteer crew have been at sea some 752 hours, with a minimum of 5 or 6 volunteers on board for each launch, including a coxswain and a mechanic.
The lifeboat can tell some tales, celebrating its 25th birthday in Poole in 2013, escorting the RNLI’s Patron, her Majesty the Queen after she officially opened the RNLI College in 2004, to being one of the most photographed of all RNLI lifeboats. It is regularly photographed by visitors to the Lifeboat College and Poole, strolling along the Quay or the fantastic action shots whilst out on a shout that frequently made the Bournemouth Echo pages and recently the major broadsheets.
The truth is, she will be mostly fondly remembered and revered by the volunteers, Coxswains and crew that have served on her and remembered gratefully by the 650 people that she brought safely back home safe to Poole.