Community backs rebellious lifeboat crew

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A SCOTTISH community has swung behind a rebellious lifeboat crew who mutinied over plans to shut their 104-year-old station.

RNLI volunteers at St Abbs in Berwickshire handed back their pagers and vowed to use their own boats in emergencies.

They took a stand after it was announced their station would be closed later this year following a RNLI review of the best use of resources.

 

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RNLI volunteers at St Abbs in Berwickshire have vowed to use their own boats in emergencies

 

Crews over the years have saved 226 lives and been awarded bravery medals for their efforts in the North Sea.

Now locals are “campaigning like mad” to keep the station going, with an online petition reaching over 3,000 signatures.

The area, popular with divers, is set to be served by a station at Eyemouth – two miles away.

The 22-strong volunteer crew said the decision would risk lives and “rip the heart” out of the fishing village.

 

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The 22-strong volunteer crew said the decision would risk lives

 

Despite the fierce opposition, RNLI’s operations director George Rawlinson is determined to continue with his plan.

He said: “Our aim is to reduce risk to life, not to increase it, and I don’t believe we are putting lives at risk as a result of this decision.

“Fundamentally, we have got the ability to provide a response service from Eyemouth lifeboat station with two lifeboats.”

He also called on volunteers at St Abbs to stick with the charity and help out in other ways, but many of the crew and locals warn that if the station closes, their lifelong dedication to the RNLI will end.

Angus Skene, who has been a volunteer at the station for 35 years, said that “people are going to die” as a result of the closure.

 

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Angus Skene has been a volunteer at the station for 35 years

 

“The problem is that we’ve got no phone signal down at the harbour, so you would have to find somewhere to phone from to get help”, he said.

“In the lifeboat station we just run in and press the pager, which sends the crew.

“There are two big tides every month, so you have four hours a day when the big boat can’t get out of Eyemouth.

“The wee boat would get out, weather permitting, but you’ve got a narrower entrance in it so there will be a number of occasions where they will be struggling to get to St Abbs.

 

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Angus Skene said “people are going to die” as a result of the closure

 

“A lot of the crew already have our own fishing boats, and we’ve promised to use them to continue to save people who come into difficulty in the harbour.

“People are going to die but we will do the best we can.”

The online petition, which was set up two weeks ago, shows the extent of the concern felt across the community.

Rosemary Anderson wrote: “I fear lives will be lost with the closure of St Abbs lifeboat station.”

Peter Dix added: “The lifeboat is essential to keeping activities like scuba diving in the area safe.”

Alan Nugent said: “I don’t see how they can close something as important as this, that saves thousands of lives a year.”

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