Independent lifeboat to replace St Abbs RNLI station by July

SCOTLAND'S first independent lifeboat in over 30 years will be launched this summer after £400,000 was raised in a few months.

A new independent lifeboat will replace the existing 104-year-old RNLI lifetboat station at St Abbs. Picture: Ian Rutherford

A row erupted in St Abbs, Berwickshire, last year after the RNLI axed the town’s lifeboat after 104 years.

Crew members even vowed to use their own fishing boats in a bid to continue saving lives in the popular diving area.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But now, thanks to donations from Tunnock’s and a massive fundraising effort, the team have raised the money needed to buy a new boat.

The independent nine-metre (30ft) rescue craft is set to arrive in the harbour by the start of July.

St Abbs and the surrounding area has been without a lifeboat since September last year, when locals gathered to throw flowers into the water as the station was officially closed.

Since then, St Abbs has been served by a boat at Eyemouth station, which is two miles away.

The new inflatable boat is manufactured by Marine Specialised Technologies - a company based in Liverpool which supplies search and rescue vessels around the world.

Christened ‘Thomas Tunnock’, it will be commissioned in July this year and put to work straight away.

Euan Gibson, campaign manager for ‘Save St Abbs Lifeboat’, said: “The crew and committee have been to the Liverpool factory and after testing it on the Mersey we settled on that design which we think will be perfect for conditions at St Abbs.

“The crew are back in training, and their first aid training will be beyond the minimum requirement tailored to deal with potential diving casualties.”

Alistair Crowe, who joined the volunteer crew over 50 years ago, added: “This is an ideal boat for the rescue work we are involved in at St Abbs and will increase the search and rescue capabilities along the Berwickshire coast.

“We look forward to St Abbs coming back on station as an accredited SAR service in July. The fundraising and hard work to achieve this continues on all fronts.”

The vessel will be the first independent lifeboat in Scotland in over 30 years, with the most recent one established in Dornoch in the Highlands in 1982.

Once it begins work, it will be the sixth independent lifeboat currently in operation throughout the country.

Over the years, St Abbs volunteers have saved 226 lives and been awarded bravery medals for their efforts in the North Sea.