On the 30th June 2015 “The National” (Scottish Newspaper) published an article titled: “Saving St Abbs lifeboat station would not cost £1.5m, insist crew” by Janice Burns.
The article explains that the RNLI PR department has changed its message about the proposed closure of the St Abbs Lifeboat Station being for solely “Operational Reasons” and not financial, to suggest that it would cost in excess of £1.5 Million to upgrade the station to host the new Atlantic 85.
The St Abbs Lifeboat Station unwent a major refurbishment several years ago with new facilities and cradle being installed. This cradle holds the current Atlantic 75 lifeboat, but is designed to be made wider for a new Atlantic 85 by moving a few bolts.
As regards the cost of the new Atlantic 85 “Dorothy and Katherine Barr III” this has already been financed for by the Barr Trust which has financed the last two lifeboats to be based at St Abbs.
So we reject entirely that it would cost £1.5 million to prepare the station for an Atlantic 85.
Saving lives at sea is dependent on a quick response time. So while the St Abbs Lifeboat Station may not have gold plated taps it is the right lifeboat, in the right location, with a crew who have the local knowledge needed to make a real difference.
This Saturday (27/6/2015) the Scotsman published a two page article titled: “Swan song for St Abbs lifeboat station” by Ben Nimmo. The article was about the proposed closure of the station and the recent rescue of Marion McFarlane.
“I was about 13 metres down. I tried to breathe, and suddenly there was no air from my regulator. I tried my octopus (reserve) and that wasn’t working either,” she says on the phone from Fife, a few days after being discharged from hospital.
It is every diver’s nightmare. Underwater, your air supply is your life, and it’s not until it stops that you realise how deep 13 metres really is.
“I had no choice but to fin up,” she says. “I hit the surface and tried to breathe in, but I must have got water in my lungs already. Then I passed out.”– Quote from Article
When you reach the surface after an accident like this a quick response by a lifeboat is crucial. We known that the D-Class based in Eyemouth will add at least 10 minutes to the response time. In the case of Marion McFarlane those extra 10 minutes could have resulted in a very different outcome.
“What we’re looking to do is reduce risk, not create a situation where there’s more. We don’t think this change will lead to loss of life.” – George Rawlingson, Operations Director RNLI
The best that the RNLI executive can say is that they don’t think the closing of the St Abb Lifeboat will lead to loss of life. Sadly, we know it will. If our lifeboat station had been closed a few months ago, Marion McFarlane may have been the first victim of this ill-thought-out decision.
We’d like to thank our local MSPs for supporting our campaign. Both John Lamont MSP and Paul Wheelhouse MSP have both given us valuable support, advice and have helped raise the profile of our campaign. We have also had the support of our local constituency MP Calum Kerr MP.
On the local level we have the support of Scottish Borders Council, and our local councillors Michael Cook and Jim Fullerton.
The support of our elected representatives has really boosted the moral of our campaigners.
Finally, we’d like to thank Ruth Davidson MSP and leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, pictured here with John Lamont MSP in the Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber, for supporting our campaign.
Wow, we could never have believed they’d be so popular! In just a few weeks we’ve had hundreds of orders of our fantastic T-Shirts which not only raise awareness of our cause, but also contibute to our campaign funds.
Rachel Crowe, at Rock House Dive Centre is doing a fantastic job co-ordinating everything.
The “Save St Abbs Lifeboat” T-Shirts cost £10 each (with £3.60 of this going towards the campaign fund) and are avaliable in the following sizes:
Kids’ sizes: (in age groups) 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-11, 12-13
Men’s sizes: (Straight cut) S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL.
Ladies’ size: (Scoop neck), 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. (Ladies sizes are designed to be worn tight.)
Ordering and Collecting from St Abbs – Placing an order at either the St Abbs Visitor Centre or at Rock House Dive Centre (To order please call Rachel Crowe on 07823 449 100). When the t-shirt is ready you will need to collect it in person. They cost £10 each with £3.60 going towards the campaign fund.
Order Online (includes cost of delivery) – Thanks to Dunbar T-Shirt Shop you can now buy a t-shirt online. They cost £13 each with £3.60 going towards the campaign fund. This includes the price of delivery. Click Here to order your T-shirt online.
Finally a special thanks must go to our T-Shirt suppliers. Steven, Gavin, Natalie and Margaret at the Dunbar T-Shirt Shop have done a fantastic job keeping up with demand. They are also producing these T-Shirts at cost price which means we can spread the word about our campaign and make a little money on each sale to support other aspects of our campaign.
The National Trust for Scotland’s chief executive, Simon Skinner has written to the RNLI with his concerns. He said:
We do not think the proposed closure, and subsequent reliance on an Eyemouth-based lifeboat, is appropriate… my colleagues and I are greatly concerned that the lifeboat reaction time would be substantially reduced in an increasingly busy area, thereby leading to potentially tragic outcomes.
Read more about the NTS’s support for our campaign in The National newspaper here.
St Abbs Head NTS Ranger Liza Cole wears her Save St Abbs Lifeboat t-shirt with pride.
On Saturday 30 May at around 6.45pm members of the public raised the alarm, saying they had seen what they thought was a dive party experiencing difficulties, about 100 meters offshore at the back of St Abbs Harbour.
Members of the St Abbs crew who live and work around the harbour responded immediately. They decided to self- launch the ILB, and within four minutes were on scene at Cathedral Rock dive site. There they found a party of divers attending to one of their group who was in a seriously bad way.
Quickly getting the casualty aboard they realised her breathing was erratic, and that she needed medical treatment straight away. Oxygen was administered on the boat and she was rapidly transferred back to the Harbour and remained under the care of the crew until local paramedics arrived.
She was transferred into the ambulance. They transported her the short distance up to St Abbs Head where she was placed aboard Rescue 131 from RAF Boulmer, and flown to Aberdeen infirmary.
The casualty was in a serious condition, and had to spend a number of days in hospital. Thankfully she made a full recovery. This incident could have had a totally different outcome if it wasn’t for all those involved acting in the way they did.
This includes the swift and decisive actions of the dive party, responding to the incident when they realised something was wrong underwater. Also, the medical care that was administered at Aberdeen.
Her friend wrote to us to express their thanks:
I was one of the divers out at Cathedral Rock with the injured diver and while we had managed to drag our injured friend on top of the rocks, she was in a bad state, unconscious and barely breathing. She required immediate attention.
The quick response of your crew getting to us, the supply of oxygen to the injured diver and her return to shore and care that followed, in my opinion, saved her life.
It was impressive to see how quickly and organised the volunteers mobilised but also the attention that was given to us who were in various states of shock from the incident was greatly appreciated.
Based on a coastal review undertaken without local consultation, the RNLI executive proposes to close the St Abbs Lifeboat Station.
The St Abbs Lifeboat is based in the heart of one of the UK’s premier diving sites, the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve. As well as divers, it also safeguards our inshore fishermen, our anglers, our kayakers, our surfers, our sailors and anyone who works or plays along the Berwickshire Coast.
The RNLI executive plans to replace the B-Class (Atlantic 75) lifeboat at St Abbs with a slower and less capable D-Class lifeboat based at Eyemouth.
As inshore rescue is highly dependent on response times, and taking into account the tidal race around St Abbs Head the D-Class will be a liability, which will endanger the crew and result in needless fatalities.
The life saving capabilites of the St Abbs lifeboat were once again proved on the 30th May 2015. The crew responded to a diver in distress and, within minutes and had rescued her and returned her to the station for medical attention. This was all acheived before a D-Class from Eyemouth could even have been onsite.
So we are campaigning for the St Abbs Lifeboat Station to remain a part of the RNLI family. We hope you’ll get involved and help us Save St Abbs Lifeboat and ultimately save peoples lives too.
With your help we're making it happen – Saving Lives on the Berwickshire Coast.