Whitby Lifeboat Station Grand Unveiling
Firstly I must apologise for the delay in uploading pages related to when the new lifeboat station was finally and officially unveiled in 2007. The previous station had long out lived its usefulness, especially with today's technological advances. The volunteer crew deserved something to merit their commitment and the new station is just that and more. It brings Whitby lifeboat station into a new era and the crew have every right to be proud of the facilities they now have. The ability to create the new station was a complex series of phases each with their own difficulties to overcome, with the plans passed the need to raise some of the £1 million expenses began in earnest. Once the funding was secured it paved the way for the beginning of the end for the existing station.
Friday the 7th September 2007 turned out to be truly historic day for the Whitby during which the Duchess of Kent officially opened Whitby's new £1m lifeboat station, made all the better by the glorious sunshine. 300 guests were present at the prestigious ceremony with hundreds more lining Pier Road to catch a glimpse of the Duchess, who arrived on the George and Mary Webb after leaving from the bandstand. Dressed in a dark-coloured suit and wearing sunglasses she arrived at the new station to be greeted by various dignitaries, including the Mayor of Whitby Steve Smith and the Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Rev Robert Ladds. Before the Duchess arrived for the hour long ceremony, the crowd were kept entertained by the Marske Fishermen’s Choir with a variety of maritime songs.
During the ceremony, the Duchess unveiled a bronze bust of lifeboatman Henry Freeman, which takes pride of place outside the new boathouse, the late Richard Sefton and his wife seemed extremely pleased to have their contribution marked by HRH. She then formally opened the lifeboat station and named the present inshore lifeboat, OEM Stone III. Addressing the crowd, the Duchess said: "I am very, very proud to be back in Whitby, which is one of the most beautiful places where my father used to bring me when I was a child, I am honoured and proud to be back here again, thank you so much for inviting me, it is my honour and enormous privilege to open Whitby Lifeboat Station.”
The new inshore lifeboat was handed over to Whitby RNLI by Margaret Gadsby, the niece of the late Olive Stone, whose legacy funded the new boat. Ms Gadsby spoke of her honour to be involved in the ceremony and said her aunt was proud of her association with the RNLI. Michael Vlasto, RNLI operations director, accepted the boat on behalf of the institution placing it in the care of Whitby Lifeboat Station. He said: “This is a celebration of the endeavours of lifeboat crews in the past and of the courage and dedication of the lifeboat crews today.” The late Roy Weatherill, Whitby Lifeboat Station Operations Manager, spoke of it being a proud and historic day for the town. Mr. Weatherill, said Whitby RNLI is one of the most decorated in the British Isles, but he also asked people to remember those lifeboatmen who have lost their lives trying to save others.
The Rt Rev Robert Ladds and the Canon David Smith, rector of Whitby, presented several hymns and prayers before the boathouse and the new inshore lifeboat were officially blessed after which the Duchess and VIPs were given a tour of the boathouse and on Friday night there was a special gala event at Whitby Pavilion for 650 invited guests.
As this is the first gallery page, I have added a selection of my photographs leading up to the official engagement, followed by three belonging to a good friend Alan Wastell who has some pages on my gallery website.
The Duchess of Kent has a long affiliation with the RNLI in Whitby, having named the station’s last three lifeboats. The station became operational in August and was built on the site of the town’s old lifeboat station, which dated back to 1918 and was known to crew members as the old tin shed. The new station is without doubt one of the most up to date RNLI facilities on the east coast and includes an inshore lifeboat house, crew changing facilities, a training room, office and kitchen.
The three photographs below belong to Alan Wastell who has his own gallery pages in my Gallery Website.
In some ways it was sad to see the old station being dismantled, it had served Whitby well since 1918 and it was as much a landmark as many of the towns buildings, featuring on many postcards and throughout many publications. There is no denying that the official unveiling of the new lifeboat station was a huge success and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The following links are new gallery pages all related to the official opening of the lifeboat station, which I feel sure you will find effectively illustrate the prestigious day.
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