Volunteers at Hartlepool RNLI are making sure everything is ship shape in time for the naming ceremony of their new lifeboat this Saturday.
The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat went on service in March and was funded by a gift left in the will of Second World War veteran John Masters, who took part in the D-Day Landings.
I’m sure he would have been delighted to know his gift has already saved one life off the Hartlepool coast and will help us save many more in the years to come. There can’t be any better legacy than that.Mike Craddy, Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat
He asked for the lifeboat to be named Solihull after the place he met his wife Barbara and spent much of his life.
On Saturday, around 100 volunteers and supporters of the charity will gather at Hartlepool Marina for the naming ceremony, which will include a service of dedication led by Reverend Chris Collison.
The lifeboat will be officially named by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowdon.
Hartlepool RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Mike Craddy said the ceremony would be a chance for everyone connected to the charity to formally acknowledge the generosity of Mr Masters.
He said: “I’ve been involved with the RNLI for many years but it still astounds me that the lifeboats, equipment and training our crews need to help them save lives are all provided by donations and legacies from generous people like Mr Masters.
“None of us had met Mr Masters and we don’t know if he ever visited a lifeboat station, but he was clearly full of admiration for our charity.
“I’m sure he would have been delighted to know his gift has already saved one life off the Hartlepool coast and will help us save many more in the years to come. There can’t be any better legacy than that.’
While the crew were training on the lifeboat on its first day of operations, they were called to rescue an angler who was swept off South Gare in stormy conditions.
The man’s life was saved because of the quick response of the lifeboat crew. Since then, the lifeboat has launched eight times and been used to rescue 13 people.
The 35 knot Atlantic 85 is the fastest sea-going RNLI lifeboat and the first RNLI inshore lifeboat to have radar, which means it can operate more effectively in reduced visibility.
It is also bigger than its predecessor, with room for a fourth crew member as well as more space for casualties.
The Lord Lieutenant will name the lifeboat Solihull by pouring Champagne over the bow of the vessel. Traditionally, the donor or members of their family name the lifeboat but, to date, no close family of Mr Masters have been traced.