Sunday morning's exercise for both Wells lifeboats was all about practicing launch and recovery on Holkham beach, which the crews have to do at low water when there is no tide to launch from or return to Wells harbour. But it marked a first for the station as it's the first time the crew has been able to wear its new Helly Hansen clothing for the all-weather lifeboat.
The RNLI has partnered with Helly Hansen for the new offshore gear, combining its own experience in kitting out lifeboat crews since 1824 with Helly Hansen's long and expert history of keeping seafarers safe and warm since 1877.
The new kit uses lightweight, breathable fabrics and a layering system to keep crew warm and dry. As well as the usual bib trousers, jacket and safety boots, each crew member now has the option of a thermal base layer and a mid-layer body warmer as well as a second lighter jacket that can be worn as a mid-layer or used as an outer layer in warmer weather.
In a departure from previous practice, each crew member now has their own kit chosen and sized especially for them and, for the first time, women crew members have clothing designed for women and cut and sized to fit properly.
There's only a subtle change to the colour though... the new kit is still yellow though it's a more lemony shade and, for the moment at least, is much cleaner and brighter than the old clothing which have served on station for many years.
Wells Lifeboat marks its 150th year as an RNLI lifeboat station this year. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution took over the provision and management of a lifeboat in Wells in 1869, building a boathouse on the quay (which is now the harbour office) and providing the 'Eliza Adams', a 32ft rowing and sailing lifeboat. Records show the town had a lifeboat, provided by the local Norfolk Shipwreck Association, as far back as 1830.
The 150th anniversary will be marked with the presentation of a vellum to the station on Saturday 13th July 2019, with an invited audience at the boathouse. In the afternoon, the public will be invited to join in and it is hoped to have both our current all-weather and inshore lifeboats along with historic and modern lifeboats on display in the outer harbour and in a flotilla up to the quay.
An exhibition about the RNLI and the history of Wells lifeboat station will be on view in the town and plans are being discussed for other related events to mark the occasion. More details will be posted when available.
Thanks to all who came and supported us at this year's Christmas carol service, led by station Chaplain Neil Woodruff and ably assisted by Fakenham Town Band and Wells Churches Together. The annual festive crush in the boat hall raised £380 for the institution.
We're delighted to announce that we've managed to obtain some brand new RNLI Wells flag lapel badges. These are genuine metal RNLI Lifeboats flag pin-badges with the legend Wells next the-Sea which, as anyone who has asked recently will know, are rarely available.
The badges are available at the boathouse (when open) for a minimum donation of £3. Alternatively, please send a self-addressed envelope ready-stamped with 79p postage (2nd class large letter) and a cheque for £3 (or a larger donation) payable to "Wells RNLI" to Pin Badges, RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station, Beach Road, Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1DR and we'd be pleased to pop one in the post to you.
A national tribute will take place this Sunday November 11 to mark 100 years since the end of the World War I.
In Wells, wreaths will be laid at the war memorial at 4.30pm and a special service, to which all are invited, will be held in a marquee on the quayside at 5.30pm. As in other years, members of the lifeboat crew will join other services and groups within the town at the memorial and then march to the service on the quay (rather than to the church as usual).
The beacon in the harbour will be lit at 7pm as one of over 1000 beacons to be lit in salute. It is planned that both lifeboats will be launched at the boathouse early on the tide around 6.30pm to come up to the quay during the beacon lighting.
A plaque was unveiled today at Wells Lifeboat Station to mark the successful conclusion of The Lifeboat Fund's appeal to provide £1.1M towards the cost of the station's new Shannon-class lifeboat and boathouse.
The Civil Service charity The Lifeboat Fund has supported the RNLI for over 150 years and its 150th Anniversary Appeal set out to raise money for a new all-weather lifeboat for Wells. The plaque honours a generous legacy donation from retired civil servant Miss Louene Smith which took the fund to its target and provided a further £100,000 which will go towards the cost of building the new boathouse.
The Lifeboat Fund's support, along with other donations, including a local appeal which raised over £250,000, will enable crew and volunteers at Wells Lifeboat Station to begin a new chapter of lifesaving on the North Norfolk coast.
RNLI volunteers, trustees and guests attended today's event, including Sir Mark Sedwill, Chair of the Lifeboat Fund, Sarah, Countess of Leicester, Cllr Michael Gates, Mayor of Wells-next-the-Sea and John Bines, RNLI Deputy Fundraising Director.
Sir Mark Sedwill, Chair of the Lifeboat Fund, said: 'Her generosity in donating a £445,000 legacy, along with the valiant fundraisers of The Lifeboat Fund, have allowed us to complete the £1.1M of fundraising for the 53rd lifeboat we have funded for the RNLI - and provide a further £100,000 funding for the new boathouse that will be the home of the new Shannon Class Lifeboat.'
Chris Hardy, Wells RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: 'On behalf of the volunteer crew and everyone associated with the RNLI Lifeboat Station in Wells, we are deeply indebted to The Lifeboat Fund for its incredible fundraising efforts towards the cost of our new Shannon lifeboat and what a marvellous way this is for the Fund to mark its 150th anniversary of raising money for the RNLI.'
'We also acknowledge with thanks the generous legacy donation made by Miss Louene Smith, which closed The Lifeboat Fund appeal earlier this year. The money will be used to fund the earlery shore works associated with our new boathouse build, which will commence later this year.'
We were delighted to meet three different fund-raisers visiting the station over the bank holiday weekend.
On Friday, James and Belinda Richardson stopped by in their Porsche 911, along with friends and supporters in a selection of fast cars, as part of their RNLI 911 Challenge... to drive the 911 around the UK's coastline visiting all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations in 911 hours. The couple started from Teddington lifeboat station on 23rd August and are already at Berwick on Tweed on the Scottish border. They hope to complete their circuit by 30th September and to raise the equivalent of £238 for each of the lifeboat stations. You can read more about the challenge at the link below. follow them on Instagram and Twitter or make a donation on justgiving.
On Saturday, while the inshore lifeboat was out on a shout at Blakeney, Merrick Gill and her father from Dereham dropped in to donate £117 which she raised making and selling cupcakes. Merrick is a keen supporter of the lifeboats and hopes to work on or around boats when she's older.
Shortly afterwards, RNLI Stormforce member James Dye and his family called in with a cheque for £110 being a welly-full of money raised at his dad's Norfollk Broads boat hire business Silverline Marine in Brundall. James and his brother had a quick tour of the station and we were impressed with his mechanical knowledge learnt from helping turn cruisers around in the yard.
Our thanks to all three fund-raising teams for their support and for everyone who has donated or contributed to their efforts.RNLI 911 Challenge website
Continuing a long-running tradition of support for Wells lifeboat, representatives from Fakenham and District Darts League and the General Townshend Club in Fakenham presented the station with a donation of £1351 on Saturday morning. Angela Raimonodo and Jenny Williamson, both Captains of Ladies teams within the league, were welcomed by our chairman Peter Rainsford and met with members of the volunteer crew. The money was raised during a series of matches over the year.
Darts players in and around Fakenham have been regularly raising money for the station for many years in a tradition originally started by Mary Rumbold, landlady of the Fakenham Star pub. The crew are grateful for their support.