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St Abbs Lifeboat – Going independent

So tommorrow at 9am the St Abbs RNLI Lifeboat Station will close. However this is not the end of the campaign to “Save St Abbs Lifeboat” we’re now looking at setting up our own Independant Lifeboat.

While people often associate lifeboats with the RNLI. They are not resonsible for operating all the lifeboats within the Brisith Isles. There are at least 70 independant lifeboats operating throughout Britain and Ireland.  And we hope to join that list. We’re still at the early stages of planning, but we’ll keep you upto date with our progress.

Press Release (for immediate release)

The village of St. Abbs, Berwickshire announces that detailed proposals are now being considered for the future operation of the St. Abbs Lifeboat Station independently of the RNLI.

The St Abbs Lifeboat Station was opened in 1911 following heavy loss of life from the wreck of the Alfred Erlandsen on the Ebb Carr reef in 1907. This also followed one of the worst maritime disasters in the British Isles in 1881 when the lives of 189 fishermen were lost, principally from the villages of St. Abbs, Eyemouth and Burnmouth

St Abbs lifeboat station has an illustrious record of service having saved over 230 lives throughout its 104 year history.

The decision to look at going independent follows a decision by the RNLI to declare St Abbs non-operational from Tuesday 8th September at 09.00

In announcing the decision the St Abbs Lifeboat campaign organiser Euan Gibson said today:

“St Abbs has a 104 year association with the RNLI and we are naturally sad that this should come to an end.

However the fact remains that we believe there is a major divergence of views between ourselves and the RNLI over the safety issues which affect this coast.
St Abbs has been supported in its judgement by local medical services, The National Trust for Scotland (which owns the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve), The British Sub Aqua Club, The Scottish Sub Aqua Club, 46 MPs who signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, 13,500 members of the Public who signed the petition, not to mention the thousands of RNLI supporters who have contacted us.

Lifeboat Crews are volunteers, many being drawn from fishing communities, the merchant navy and many other walks of life. In the case of St Abbs local knowledge is of particular importance. In 2011 this was acknowledged through an RNLI Bronze Medal award of bravery for a rescue mission that would not have been possible without local knowledge.

In recent years St Abbs has bucked the trend, and seen an increase in fishing boats with leisure use increasing also. Many rescues are now associated with leisure activities such as scuba diving, sea kayaking, surfing, cliff walking, sea angling etc.
If anything the need for the right boat at St Abbs has increased rather than the reverse.

The decision by RNLI to replace St Abbs with a smaller and less capable boat at Eyemouth is we believe an error of judgement, based on flawed data.

For this reason and in the public interest we are announcing today that detailed planning is under way to raise funds for an entirely independent lifeboat station at St. Abbs.

This will be carried out very much in the spirit of the original Jane Hay campaign to have a lifeboat at St. Abbs – where it is needed most.

As part of our plans our advisers are already in discussion with RNLI regarding the existing lifeboat house and lifesaving equipment. The lifeboat house and its fittings and fixtures belong to the St Abbs Harbour Trustees.

In order to operate independently we will need to launch an independent appeal for funds.

We ask that our supporters remain patient while we take advice, and discuss the best way of moving this project forward.