The new 13m Shannon lifeboat Elizabeth and Leonard entered Amble harbour in Northumberland for the first time, to be greeted by hundreds of well-wishers, supporters and fundraisers in winter sunshine on 18 November 2016, reports Nicholas Leach.

An RNLI fundraising appeal to raise £200,000 towards the cost of the new vessel was launched in 2014. After a multitude of events, ranging from coffee mornings and sponsored runs, through to golf days and a fashion show, the impressive target was reached in June 2016 ahead of schedule, and helped towards the cost of the new state-of-the-art lifeboat. The new craft was built at the RNLI’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset, and is named Elizabeth and Leonard in memory of a couple whose legacy helped to fund it.

Katrina Cassidy, chairperson of the Amble Lifeboat Fundraising Committee, said: “We were delighted when we managed to hit our £200,000 Shannon appeal target in just 23 months, and today is the culmination of really hard work by the fundraisers; it is quite an emotional day.”


New Shannon lifeboat: Elizabeth and Leonard

The crewmen and officials on Amble’s new Shannon class lifeboat Elizabeth and Leonard.

Elizabeth and Leonard was escorted into the harbour by Amble volunteers aboard the outgoing 12m Mersey class lifeboat The Four Boys, and the relief inshore lifeboat D-774 Arthur Hamilton. Musician Beverly Palin was aboard The Four Boys to pipe in the arrival of the new Shannon.

RNLI Amble volunteer coxswain John Connell and his crew aboard the Elizabeth and Leonard showed off the new vessel to the gathered crowds by performing a series of manoeuvres within the harbour. Volunteer crew member Robert Henderson, who was aboard the Shannon, said: “We expected family and friends to be present to welcome in the new lifeboat, but we never thought we would see such a magnificent turnout like this.”

The volunteers at RNLI Amble have been undertaking familiarisation training on a Shannon lifeboat at Amble with a relief boat, and some volunteers have also completed training at the RNLI training college in Poole.

Elizabeth and Leonard had been due to arrive on 12 October 2016, but an engine problem forced the crew and RNLI staff to abandon the passage up the east coast. She had set out for station from Poole on 5 October, calling at Cowes and then Dover. The next call was at Lowestoft, where the boat stayed for two nights for a crew change.

The new crew set sail on 9 October, but an engine fault caused a diversion to Hull, where the engine manufacturers found that one engine had dropped a valve. The crew returned to Amble and on 13 October the boat was taken by road back to the ALC at Poole where, on 31 October, a replacement engine was installed.

The new Shannon was declared operational after crew training had been completed, after which the 12m Mersey The Four Boys departed. The Mersey has been at Amble for nearly 20 years during which time she proved to be a tough and reliable lifeboat, with the volunteers at the station regarding her with great affection.

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