Stonehaven rescue charity to close as boats damaged
A SCOTTISH charity which provides vital rescue cover along a 25 mile stretch of the Aberdeenshire coastline is being forced to close its doors after its premises and boats at Stonehaven harbour were badly damaged in December’s storm surge.
The town’s Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI), which also specialises in training lifeboat crews from across the world, was left unable to put any boats in the water after the harbour and beach area of the town was struck by a massive storm surge on 15 December.
And the board of the charity, already struggling financially because of falling donations, has now decided that there is no other option but to close down.
MRI has been based in Stonehaven for more than 30 years and, in addition to its specialist training services in maritime rescue, also provides volunteer crews to provide 24 hour search and rescue lifeboat response via the Coastguard for a 25 mile stretch of the Aberdeenshire coast and up to 50 nautical miles offshore.
Ann Laing, the charity’s chief executive said all four of the MRI boats - two rescue boats and two training boats - had been badly damaged in the storm. The main base and equipment was also damaged, together with the charity’s restaurant at the harbour.
She said: “We are having to close the doors. It’s a very sad day for all of us. And it’s hard to believe that the elements that we work with and respect are what were the final straw for us.Our trustees and myself have worked tirelessly to try and find a way around this but I am afraid the elements on 15 December have left us with no choice but to close.”
Ms Laing continued: “We had worked hard for two years through the recession and we thought we had turned a corner and put all the right things in place when the storm hit Stonehaven.
“We lost all four of our boats, our main building was damaged and the Boathouse restaurant was badly damaged and has not been able to reopen. We lost a lot of equipment and, although we have insurances, the excesses take their toll on the cash flow.”
MRI has been providing lifeboat rescue cover in the area for more than 30 years and has carried out more than 500 rescue operations during that period. Crews from MRI helped evacuate residents from their flooded homes in the town’s High Street area when the River Carron burst its banks only days after the storm surge.
Ms Laing added: “We have had discussions with the RNLI and the Coastguard. We haven’t been able to put a boat in place for the Coastguard since 15 December so the RNLI from Aberdeen and Montrose have been covering the area. They will go through their own risk assessment and survey of the area to decide what is best for future cover in the area.”
The charity is expected to finally close at the end of March.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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