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Our brand-new Shannon lifeboat is lifted into the water

Thr 7 Jul 2022

RNLB 13-46 'Duke of Edinburgh' waits to be lifted into the water at Poole

RNLB 13-46 'Duke of Edinburgh' waits to be lifted into the water at Poole

Setting up for the bell ringing ceremony

Setting up for the bell ringing ceremony

A first chance to see the Launch A Memory names within the decals on the hull and wheelhouse roof

A first chance to see the Launch A Memory names within the decals on the hull and wheelhouse roof

An audience of invited guests and RNLI staff

An audience of invited guests and RNLI staff

Wells crew members Ray West and Max Phillips with the new lifeboat

Wells crew members Ray West and Max Phillips with the new lifeboat
RNLI/Nathan Williams

Waiting to be lifted in...

Waiting to be lifted in...

And she's in...

And she's in...

The new boat will be commissioned and undergo extensive sea trials before coming to Wells in the Autumn

The new boat will be commissioned and undergo extensive sea trials before coming to Wells in the Autumn

Wells' future lifeboat, Shannon-class 13-46 'Duke of Edinburgh' has emerged from the All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole where she has been built. In a 'bell ringing ceremony' behind the factory, an audience of invited guests and RNLI staff watched as eight bells were rung as the lifeboat was lowered into the water for the first time.

The state-of-the-art boat is named 'Duke of Edinburgh' in honour of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, who died last year, aged 99.

In addition to Prince Philip’s royal title, the boat also bears the names of 15,000 loved ones submitted by RNLI supporters through the lifesaving charity’s Launch a Memory fundraising campaign. 

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘We are delighted to honour Prince Philip’s longstanding commitment to maritime services and lifetime of support to Her Majesty The Queen, who has been our Patron since 1952.  

‘Building lifeboats and lifesaving equipment is something we do every day, but each lifeboat marks a very meaningful moment in history. For crews they are welcoming a new boat which will help our lifesavers work towards saving every one. For RNLI supporters, they will know this lifeboat is launching in memory of so many loved ones every time she receives the call for help.’

Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have a long history with the RNLI. Her Majesty has been Patron of the lifesaving charity since 1952 and The Duke of Edinburgh became a member of the Council in 1972. Together, they visited several RNLI lifeboat stations over the years.

In a nod to The Duke of Edinburgh’s proud naval career during which he was Commanding Officer of HMS Magpie, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attached a magpie engraved plate to the new lifeboat in June last year. 

Wells Lifeboat Station Lifesaving Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said: ‘The Shannon will help take us forward in all weathers. The crew are eagerly awaiting her arrival and can’t wait to make the boat fully operational on station. 

‘The station is immensely proud and honoured to have its new Shannon class lifeboat named Duke of Edinburgh. We are in no doubt that our new lifeboat will continue the vital work of saving lives at sea, which we know His Royal Highness was so passionate about throughout his lifelong maritime association.’

Eight bells is a traditional ship's signal marking the end of one watch and the start of another. This has become a tradition at the All-Weather Lifeboat Centre as a new Shannon is completed and moves on from the ALC building to commissioning and sea trials, as well as perhaps representing the upcoming replacement of a long-serving lifeboat with a new one.
The new Shannon will now be commissioned and tested and then undergo extensive sea trials. She will also be on display in Poole for five days in August to Launch A Memory donors. It is envisaged that the lifeboat will be brought round to Wells in late September and, after further crew training, will take over as Wells Lifeboat from the current Mersey class 12-003 Doris M Mann of Ampthill which has served the station since 1990.


  More pictures of 13-46

Awards Evening


Crew and guild members and their friends and families met up in the grounds of Wells Cottage Hospital on a lovely summer evening to recognise the long service of some of our volunteers. Many crew members also received the Queen's Platinum Jubilee medal which has been awarded to all frontline emergency services personnel that had completed five full years of service on 6 February 2022.

This was the first such event held several years and recognised achievements not just for 2022 but in 2021 and prior years so we were delighted to be able to welcome back some retired crew and people who have left the station to formerly recognise their contribution to Wells RNLI.

A bar and barbeque followed.

Awards were given for 20 years service to Lifeboat Operations Manager Chris Hardy and Tractor driver and Show crew Kent Cooper, both due in 2021. Crew member Max Phillips also received a 20 year award and Head Launcher Nicky Beck a 30 year award, both due this year. Certificates of service were awarded to past crew members Martyn Flitcroft for over 10 years and to Mick Frary for over 40 years on the lifeboat as a crew member, mechanic and navigator.

A special mention and picture were presented to Dr Gordon McAnsh who retired this year, having served as the station's Lifeboat Medical Advisor from June 2014.

Among the Wells Lifeboat Guide, 20 year service awards were made to Janet Beckett, Hazel Mitchell, Janet Angles, Isobel Camp, Kate Webb, Louise Williams and Margaret Bunting. Marylyn Smith and Linda Ballard were awarded 30 year awards and Sheila Warner for 60 years on the guild.

Platinum Jubilee medals were awarded to Nicky Beck, James Betteridge, Harmen Brouwer, Kent Cooper, Phil Eaglan, Martin Emerson, Martin Few, Mark Frary, Ross Fulford, Chris Hardy, Eric Hart, Nathan Hart, Greg Hewitt, Nicky King, Gordon McAnsh, Kevin Parr, Max Phillips, Peter Rainsford, Danny Roberts, Ray West and Fred Whitaker.

Our thanks to all who helped to support and organise the event, and to Wells Community Hospital for use of their Hive cafe and gardens. A bar and barbeque followed.

  Photos from the awards presentations...

David J Cox BEM 1926-2022

Wed 27 Apr 2022

The RNLI station flag is being flown at half-mast in mourning for the renowned Wells lifeboat coxswain, David Cox, who died on Sunday 24 April, aged 96. During his long and distinguished service, he received 5 awards from the RNLI for courage, determination and excellent seamanship.

David was born in Wells-next-Sea in 1926 into a family of fishermen, a life which he inevitably followed. It took him on transatlantic cargo trips to America, fishing for whelks out of Wells harbour, and in time, becoming coxswain of the Wells lifeboat.    

As a boy David would race to the beach when the launch maroons went off from the lifeboat house indicating danger at sea and help to launch the lifeboat. In 1945, at the age of 19, he volunteered as a member of the lifeboat crew, following in another family tradition. In 1960 David took over as Coxswain of the lifeboat from his uncle, William Cox.

His most difficult rescue, for which he was awarded a prestigious silver medal, was on 15 February 1979 for the service to the Romanian cargo ship Savinesti with 29 people on board. The Romanian ship had engine failure eleven miles off the coast of Wells. The weather was so severe that neither the Sheringham nor Cromer lifeboats could reach the ship. The Wells 37ft open lifeboat Ernest Tom Neathercoat launched and David and his crew reached the vessel, despite the lifeboat's radar freezing and poor visibility because of the snow. With the assistance of the Humber lifeboat, which escorted the Savinestito safety, all lives on board the vessel were saved. In summary, David and his crew were at sea for 11 hours 24 minutes that night, in violent storm conditions with very heavy swell and unbelievable seas, poor visibility and sub-zero temperatures.

During his time as Coxswain, he was also awarded a Vellum for the service to yacht Kiskadee in August 1964, a framed letter of thanks for the yacht Kalin in September 1966, a Vellum service to the MFV Pilgrim in tow of the tug Superman in October 1973, a bronze medal for MFV Sarah-K in November 1982 and a framed letter of thanks for service to the tug Dockman in April 1983.

David retired from the lifeboat at the age of sixty in 1986, having handed on his vast knowledge of the sea and seamanship to the volunteer crew members who had joined under him. Before he died, he recorded his memoirs, which have been a fount of knowledge for the RNLI. Wells Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said "David was an inspiration as Coxswain to all lifeboatmen throughout the Institution, particularly for his courage and unwavering determination to saving lives at sea off our coastline. He actively continued that commitment throughout his retirement years and was a great ambassador for the RNLI, often recalling in great detail the difficult 'shouts' he had taken part in, which totally captivated all those who were listening. David's time served in Wells will never be forgotten and his longstanding contribution to the RNLI will live on in his memory - he was a legend!"

Recruitment event Saturday 26th March postponed

Fri 25 Mar 2022

We have reluctantly cancelled our volunteer recruitment event at Wells Sailing Club due to a number of Covid infections in the town. We are still very much looking for people to help with the new shop and to manage public visits at the new lifeboat station and have rearranged the event for Saturday 30th April from 3-4pm.

We apologise for the short notice and any inconvenience caused.

Help needed! Seeking volunteers for the new boathouse

Thr 10 Mar 2022


We will be opening our new lifeboat house at Wells Beach in June in preparation for the arrival of our Shannon class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh later in the year. We need to recruit new volunteers to join our team at RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station to help us to deliver an excellent visitor experience. We are seeking to fill both lead and supporting roles and if you think this might be for you and can give a minimum of four hours a week to join our expanding and enthusiastic team, we would love to hear from you.

The available positions are listed below and there are links to full details and how to apply, on the main RNLI website.

We will be running a special recruitment day on Saturday 30 April from 3–4pm at Wells Sailing Club where the public can find out more. Members of the RNLI team will be on hand to explain what is involved, what support will be given and what you can expect from the role. If you would like to pre-register your interest in attending this event please email admin@wellslifeboat.org but all are welcome to come along to the sailing club on the day.

  For further volunteer role details and to apply, see the RNLI website

Commander Mike Woodroffe, 1942-2022

Tue 15 Feb 2022

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Lt.-Commander Mike Woodroffe, who died on 8 February 2022 in his 80th year. Mike served in the Merchant Navy from 1958, before joining the Royal Navy. In 1972, he took up a career with the RNLI, where he served as Divisonal Inspector for the South East region from 1975 to 1982 and later as Deputy Chief of Operations before his retirement in 2002. Mike is particularly known for his pioneering work on the design and safe operation of the smaller lifeboats, the D Class inshore lifeboats and Atlantic class. 

Mike retired to Wells where he had previously been involved in his operations capacity with the station and he soon became active in the harbour and community, serving as a Wells Harbour Commissioner from 2004-2012. His involvement with the RNLI continued long after his retirement. Mike was very active in maintaining the important conduit with 'the coast' and looking after the welfare of the retired members of the lifeboat crew and their families who needed support. He will be dearly missed by those who knew him.

His funeral will be held at St Nicholas Church, Wells-Next-the-Sea on Thursday 24 February at 1pm, followed by Cromer Crematorium at 3pm. All are welcome.

Boathouse build - new time-lapse

Tue 8 Feb 2022

Our newly-updated time-lapse video shows the construction of our new boathouse right up to date from its start in October 2020, beginning with the site being cleared, the ground level raised, piling and the building of the concrete slab, and now going right up to the recent addition of external insulation and windows. The building should be finished by the end of May.

The station's new Shannon-class lifeboat will be no. 13-46 and named RNLB 'Duke of Edinburgh' and is currently being built at the RNLI's All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole. The boat will be launched and sea trials conducted in Poole and all being well it is envisaged it will arrive in Wells by the Autumn.

The new lifeboat will carry the names of supporter's loved ones in small type within the RNLI 13 46 lettering and numbers on the hull and on top of the wheelhouse. There are still some spaces available for this if you'd like to Launch A Memory for your loved ones this way.

For more information and photos of the boathouse build, see our boathouse build pages.

Sunday's Carol service CANCELLED

Wed 15 Dec 2021

Unfortunately, a decision has had to be taken to cancel the Christmas Carol Service this coming Sunday due to concerns about Covid. The service will now not take place.

The station would like to thank Neil, Sue and Abi and everyone who had planned and arranged this event, stepping in when our normal carols at the boathouse couldn't be held because of construction work on the new lifeboat station.

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