A coastal community which lost its lifeboat after the RNLI closed a lifeboat station is getting a new vessel thanks to a major donation from Tunnock’s, the Scottish teacake manufacturer.
The independent lifeboat will be based at St Abbs harbour, Berwickshire, which until September this year had a 104-year-long association with the RNLI.
Boyd Tunnock, the company’s owner, said he had been so impressed by local campaigners’ fund-raising to replace the village’s inshore lifeboat that he decided to increase his initial donation of £10,000 to £250,000 to buy a new lifeboat, equipment and medical supplies.
“I am a sailor and in actual fact I know about the vagaries of the sea,” Mr Tunnock said.
The larger donation was given on provision the boat was named the Thomas Tunnock - after both Mr Tunnock’s grandfather and late brother.
The former lifeboat crew could not bring themselves to visit the empty lifeboat station after the lifeboat was removed - but on Monday of this week they met at the station to start planning for the future.
Alistair Crowe, the lifeboat appeal chairman, said: “This is a highly significant development and the emergence of Tunnock’s as a major donor has unanimous support from the community of St Abbs.
“On behalf of the St Abbs community I would like to express my sincere gratitude not only to Tunnock’s, but also to all our other donors for their donations both big and small. We hoped to raise the money but to raise it in less than eight weeks is astonishing.”
Mr Crowe added: “We look forward to becoming an operational lifeboat station at St Abbs again as soon as arrangements can be put in place, which will include a new purpose-built boat.”
John Lamont MSP, a trustee of the charity set up to run the lifeboat, said: “This fantastically generous donation from Boyd Tunnock makes all the hard work of the local community worthwhile.
“This money will mean a lifeboat at St Abbs will now be back saving lives in the new year.
“It was a real blow when RNLI withdrew from the station, but the community has rallied behind raising funds to restore this live-saving service. Further funding is needed to pay for the running costs, but I have no doubt people will continue to donate generously.”
A campaign for a lifeboat station in St Abbs began in 1907 after the sinking of the SS Alfred Erlandsen on the Ebb Carrs, near the village. Lifeboats were launched from Dunbar and Eyemouth but took too long to reach the wreck and all 17 crew members were lost. In 1911 the station was founded by the RNLI.