Our Story

As part of the RNLI

St Abbs Lifeboat first put to sea in 1911, and for the first 104 years of it’s history, we supported and crewed the lifeboat as part of the RNLI, saving 230 lives.

Sadly this long tradition of saving lives at sea looked like it was going to come to an end when in 2015 the RNLI announced that they would be closing our lifeboat station. The RNLI believed that “there was not a clear need” for a lifeboat in St Abbs any more.

Fighting the decision

We knew that this was a terrible decision, as it was based on flawed information. A lot of organisations and people agreed with us, including The National Trust for Scotland, The Scottish Sub Aqua Club & The British Sub Aqua Club to name a few.

Over 13,500 of you agreed with us and signed our petition which was then personally delivered to the RNLI headquarters in Poole, Dorset.

We campaigned hard for the RNLI to reverse its decision and keep the St Abbs Lifeboat Station open as part of the RNLI family. However sadly on the 8th September 2015, the RNLI withdrew their lifeboat.

Why do we think a lifeboat is needed in St Abbs?

St Abbs from the Sky 3

  • The St Abbs Lifeboat Station is located within in the heart of the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve – one of the UK’s premier scuba diving sites.
  • The headland (St Abb’s Head) to the north of St Abbs is a National Trust of Scotland nature reserve and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
  • The coastline north of St Abbs is rocky with some of the highest cliffs in the UK, attacting anglers, kayakers and birdwatchers.
  • The beach at Coldingham Sands is the most popular swimming beach in the Scottish Borders.

A new beginning

A week after the RNLI had removed our boat,  the villagers of St Abbs held a public meeting to discuss their concerns at no longer having a lifeboat in St Abbs.

At the end of the meeting, it was decided that having saved four lives in 2015 alone, we should start fundraising to set up our own independent lifeboat station.

That was when the hard work began, and hundreds of supporters got behind our campaign to help us fundraise for a new boat &  re-equip our lifeboat station.

Coffee mornings were held, plus raffles, auctions, car boot sales and more besides. We were really touched by the number of supporters who were doing whatever they could to help put a lifeboat back in St Abbs.

The turning point came when one of our fundraisers contacted Sir Boyd Tunnock. As a result of his generosity, we were able to purchase our first independent lifeboat.

The “Thomas Tunnock”, named after Sir Boyd’s late father and late brother, was officially launched on 17th September 2016.

Our Crew

The St Abbs Lifeboat is crewed by a group of highly experienced men and women, most of whom work the seas around St Abbs every day as fishermen, dive boat operators and divers. Their local knowledge is second to none. Between them they have amassed over 330 years personal experience of saving lives at sea.


Please continue to support St Abbs Lifeboat. Without you, we could not continue our proud tradition of saving lives at sea.

You can help us right now
Click to make a donation online.