Representatives from the RNLI and the local community gathered at The Hippodrome in Eyemouth on Saturday September 16 to celebrate the new inshore lifeboat D-877 Sheila.

The lifeboat D- 877 Sheila arrived at Eyemouth RNLI lifeboat station on May 3 2023 and has already launched to six callouts, but this weekend saw the boat officially named in Eyemouth.

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The naming ceremony was followed by a service of dedication, which was opened by John Purvis, Chair of the Lifeboat Management Group. David Rose, a representative of the donor, then handed the lifeboat into the care on the RNLI, represented by John Payne, Lifesaving Operations Director.

George Davidson, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Eyemouth RNLI, then accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station, which was followed by Rev. Andy Haddow who delivered the Service of Dedication.

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Ian Stewart and Simon Browne officially named the boat with prosecco, before Mike Garfitt, Area Lifesaving Manager for the RNLI delivered a Vote of Thanks to bring the ceremony to a close.

D-877 Sheila was funded by an incredibly generous donor, Ann Wilson, who named the boat in memory of her sister, Sheila.

Ann has always had an affiliation to the sea, and in 1942, when she reached the minimum age of 17, she applied to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

Ann’s interest in the work of the RNLI took hold from an early age, and she has always been in awe of the dangerous work undertaken by RNLI volunteers.

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Many years ago, Ann began to support the RNLI with a monthly standing order and other contributions, such as buying raffle tickets.

However, when Ann lost her sister, Sheila, to Covid in 2020 and inherited her estate, Ann immediately donated some of the estate to support a number of charities. Amongst these charities was the RNLI, of which she donated an exceptional amount to fund a new inshore lifeboat based at Eyemouth.

The new inshore lifeboat, Sheila, will help the lifeboat crew at Eyemouth RNLI to save more lives at sea, with the ability to operate closer to the shore and in confined locations, such as close to cliffs and among rocks. She is also highly manoeuvrable.

Dean Mark joined Eyemouth RNLI when he was 18, following in his grandfather’s footsteps who also volunteered at the local lifeboat station, and has volunteered for the last 18 years as a crew member.

Dean is also a volunteer mechanic, as well as a volunteer helm for the inshore lifeboat, and a Trainee Coxswain for the all-weather lifeboat at Eyemouth RNLI.

He said: ‘Today is a special day for all of us here in Eyemouth as we celebrate our brand new inshore lifeboat, Sheila. This new lifeboat will allow us to continue to save lives at sea, and has already been launched to six call outs since she arrived in May.

“Ahead of the RNLI’s 200th anniversary next year, we’re delighted to receive this lifeboat to propel us forward into the future and serve the local community.

“The RNLI is funded entirely by generous donations from the public, and we couldn’t continue our work without generous donations like this one.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Mrs Wilson for her exceptionally generous donation to fund Eyemouth’s D class lifeboat, Sheila. We’re honoured to have Sheila here with us in Eyemouth to help us save lives at sea."

The D class inshore lifeboat has been the workhorse of the RNLI for over 50 years. She is highly manoeuvrable and usually operates closer to shore than our all-weather lifeboats. She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations – often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.