The crew at Leverburgh Lifeboat station have, so far, undertaken in excess of 20 training exercises since the station went live on the 2nd of May. Crew training takes place on Monday evenings, and is well attended. Exercises have taken place in the Sound of Harris, on the West side of Harris and in the sea-lochs on the east side of Uist. Among the skills being acquired are the towing of disabled vessels, man overboard procedures and night-time navigation. The crew have also had the chance to work with the crew of the Coastguard Helicopter who have assisted them with training tasks such as winching casualties off the deck. Further training has been delivered ashore; five crew members are undertaking extra training in navigation. The crew will also be given a chance to further their skill base through courses to be held at the RNLI’s state-of-the-art college in Poole. In the autumn they will train in VHF radio use and over the winter they will attend navigation courses.
Local operations manager John Maclean said: “We have been highly impressed by the enthusiasm shown by all the crew both prior to the station going operational and since then. The very fact that all crew are in full time employment and are training at least once a week is testament to the commitment they have shown to this important cause. This is not the kind of job where any one individual will ever know it all, and so the crew are constantly learning new skills and teamwork. “
The lifeboat has had three call-outs since becoming operational; two have been to assist vessels with engine failure, while the other was to rescue a sheep at Toe Head – which received widespread publicity, showing just how diverse the range of incidents are to which any lifeboat can be called.
As well as looking forward to various training courses, the crew and branch members are making ready to welcome a new boat to the station. The current vessel is only here temporarily. She will be replaced by the same type of boat, an all-weather Mersey class, called “The Royal Thames”. The new boat will be based at Leverburgh for the remainder of the station trial and will arrive in the next 2 months. The boat is currently in Poole being refitted, including the installation of 2 new engines, before delivery. She previously served at Eastbourne, which recently took delivery of a brand new all-weather Tamar Class boat, “RNLB Diamond Jubilee”. Members from both the Eastbourne and Leverburgh stations have been in regular contact over recent weeks and each base now shares a station mascot, which will take pride of place on their respective new Lifeboats.
Crew and branch members continue to be amazed at the generosity shown by so many towards their fundraising efforts. The sum of £1056 has been banked from collection boxes placed in local establishments between Uist and Harris since April. Since the Leverburgh branch was established the public has contributed the magnificent sum of £8047 towards the RNLI. The branch’s souvenir stall continues to prove popular at local events, and will be appearing at various shows over the summer.
The Lifeboat will be appearing at various events over the summer. The boat and crew have already attended the Festival of the Sea in Lochmaddy in May, and they also attended the recently-held open day in Berneray, as part of the annual ‘Berneray Week’. On the day of the South Harris Agricultural Show, 31st of July, the boat will be berthed at the pier for two hours so that anyone interested can visit it, and plans are also in place to visit the Lochmaddy Regatta on the 4th of August. It is hoped to have the boat in attendance at this year’s Amhuinnsuidhe Castle Open Day, on Saturday 22nd September. The castle’s owners have kindly agreed that all proceeds from the day will go to the RNLI. Further information regarding this event will be circulated in the coming weeks.
Honorary President Hamish Taylor commented: “We have known from the outset that there was an enormous amount of support for our Lifeboat Station, and this has been proved without question by the generosity of the public.”
Leverburgh Lifeboat Station will have its first quarterly divisional inspection in a months’ time. This inspection is part of the process through which any station on trial is monitored.
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