RNLI seek volunteers for new Stonehaven station

THE RNLI is launching a recruitment drive for volunteers as part of proposals to open a new lifeboat station at Stonehaven, following the closure of the charity that was providing voluntary rescue cover along a 25-mile stretch of the Aberdeenshire coastline.

The town’s Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI), which also specialised in training lifeboat crews from across the world, withdrew rescue cover for the area earlier this year when it was forced to close after its base and boats were extensively damaged in December’s storm surge.

MRI, based in Stonehaven for more than 30 years and, had provided volunteer crews to provide 24 hour search and rescue lifeboat response via the Coastguard for up to 50 nautical miles offshore. It had carried out more than 500 rescue operations since it opened.

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The RNLI has now announced it is hoping to open a new inshore lifeboat station at Stonehaven on a trial basis this summer. But the charity will require enough local volunteers to make the life saving service viable.

A spokesman for the RNLI said: “The RNLI has all-weather lifeboats based at Montrose and Aberdeen lifeboat stations which are currently overseeing that coastline and will be called upon to save lives at sea. The charity is investigating the possibility of setting up an inshore lifeboat station, run by volunteers, which could start as early as July.

“However, the RNLI needs to ensure that there are enough volunteers within the local community who are willing to undergo training to be crew, and that there are other people who would enjoy undertaking a shore-based role.”

The RNLI is planning to hold a public meeting in the town on 4 April where Paul Jennings, the RNLI’s Divisional Operations Manager for the area, will unveil the new station plans.

Mr Jennings said: “We are very encouraged indeed with early expressions of interest from people who would like to be crew. Former MRI crew are interested in our plans, so too is a former RNLI crewman.

`We do need a large pool of people to be crew members and there are also several station-based roles such as a lifeboat operations manager.”

The charity’s trustees are due to discuss the plans for a trial station at a meeting on 10 April. The RNLI has already had a station on two occasions at Stonehaven. The charity operated there from 1867 to 1934, and from 1967 to 1984, launching 97 times and rescuing 72 people.