This story appeared in The National on Saturday 30 July 2016.
TEN months after their previous vessel was removed by the RNLI, St Abbs has received a replacement lifeboat.
Thanks to £300,000 in donations from the local community and teacake firm Tunnock’s, the village was able to welcome the arrival of “Thomas Tunnock” on Thursday evening. The boat will be named as such at a traditional ceremony on Saturday, September 17, after the late grandfather and brother of Boyd Tunnock, who donated £250,000.
However, the Berwickshire fishing village hopes to have the boat up and running as soon as certain criteria have been met and the lifeboat is granted Declared Facility Status.
The entire village turned out to greet its arrival and Euan Gibson, who led the St Abbs Lifeboat campaign, expressed gratitude to all those who made it possible.
“Everyone involved with St Abbs Independent Lifeboat would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their overwhelming support and backing,” he said.
“We look forward to St Abbs continuing the 105-year-old tradition of saving lives, for which the village has rightly become synonymous.”
Powered by twin 200hp engines, with state-of-the-art electronics, the lifeboat will be one of the quickest and most technologically advanced in the UK and is ideal for the incidents most encountered along the Berwickshire coastline. “It’s way beyond the previous boat in terms of capability,” continued Gibson. “It’s a bigger boat, it’s a faster boat, it’s a stronger boat. It’s far superior in all ways.”
The RNLI closed the St Abbs facility last year after it decided there was “not a clear need” to have the facility in the area.
The closure, which ended the long-standing association with the village, faced public opposition from the outset. Fortunately, incidents requiring coastguard assistance around St Abbs since have been few and far between. Those that have occurred have been attended to by the nearby lifeboats in Eyemouth.
However, St Abbs is known as a popular spot for divers and Gibson concedes that the lack of a lifeboat has affected numbers. “A lot of the divers have said to us they’ve felt slightly uneasy knowing there’s no lifeboat here,” he said. “And of course, divers have been extremely generous in helping us put a lifeboat back.
“We’re delighted to see a boat back because this was the closest lifeboat to the main dive site.”