First independent Scottish lifeboat for 30 years on station by summer

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SCOTLAND’S first independent lifeboat in over 30 years will be launched this summer after £400,000 was raised in a few months.

A bitter row erupted in St Abbs, Berwickshire, last year after the RNLI axed the town’s lifeboat after 104 years.

Angry crew members even vowed to use their own fishing boats in a bid to continue saving lives in the popular diving area.

BOAT -  EDIT

But now, thanks to donations from Tunnock’s and a massive fundraising effort, the team have raised the money needed to buy a new boat.

And the independent vessel is set to arrive in the harbour by the start of July.

The area has been without a lifeboat since September last year, when locals gathered to throw flowers into the water as the station was officially closed.

Since then, St Abbs has been served by a boat at Eyemouth station, roughly two miles away.

Organisers started the serious job of raising money for an independent lifeboat, and after months of hard work have finally placed an order for a nine-metre (30ft) rescue craft.

The inflatable boat is manufactured by Marine Specialised Technologies – a company based in Liverpool which supplies search and rescue vessels around the world.

The new boat, christened ‘Thomas Tunnock’, will be commissioned in July this year and put to work straight away.

Euan Gibson, campaign manager for ‘Save St Abbs Lifeboat’, said: “The crew and committee have been to the Liverpool factory and after testing it on the Mersey we settled on that design which we think will be perfect for conditions at St Abbs.

“The crew are back in training, and their first aid training will be beyond the minimum requirement tailored to deal with potential diving casualties.”

Alistair Crowe, who joined the volunteer crew over 50 years ago, added: “This is an ideal boat for the rescue work we are involved in at St Abbs and will increase the search and rescue capabilities along the Berwickshire coast.

“We look forward to St Abbs coming back on station as an accredited SAR service in July. The fundraising and hard work to achieve this continues on all fronts.”

The vessel will be the first independent lifeboat in Scotland in over 30 years, with the most recent one established in Dornoch in the Highlands in 1982.

Once it begins work, it will be the sixth independent lifeboat currently in operation throughout the country.

Over the years, St Abbs volunteers have saved 226 lives and been awarded bravery medals for their efforts in the North Sea.

The 22-strong-crew said that the decision last year to close the station would “rip the heart” out of the fishing village.

Fundraising efforts in recent months include selling ‘Save St Abbs Lifeboat’ t-shirts, holding bake sales and even an underwater freedive swim the length of the English Channel.

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