While the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) runs 238 lifeboats stations around the UK, there are also at least 80 independent lifeboat stations, many of which were set up in the 18th century in response to an increasing loss of life at sea.
Having originally been operated by the RNLI, the Sea Palling Lifeboat Station on the Norfolk coast became an independent operation in 1972. It is a registered charity which is fully approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and its volunteer crew, consisting of 20 members of the local community, are on call 24/7,365 days per annum to provide a rapid response search and rescue service.
It costs around £35,000 per annum to maintain this service, all of which has to be raised by the charity’s trustees, management team and supporters through donations, sponsorships and grants.
Over the last few years sufficient funds have been raised to acquire two lifeboats, a purpose-designed launch vehicle, and a search and rescue quad bike. During 2018 a £20,000 grant from the Sheringham Shoal Community Fund enabled the lifeboat shed to be renovated and its operations room and training facilities to be extended and improved.
“The shed’s external wooden cladding was rotten and in desperate need of attention, and the operations and training room was very cramped, with its poorly situated windows providing a totally inadequate view of the beach, the shoreline and the sea”, said Chris Ball, Vice Chairman of the Lifeboat Management Committee.
He continued: “The grant has allowed us to extend the lifeboat shed to create a new fully fitted operations room with windows which provide full visibility up and down the coast and out to sea, as well as replacing the external wooden cladding with modern composite cladding in the original colour.”
“In addition the old operations room has been reconfigured to provide a training and meeting room which means our twice weekly training sessions do not impinge on the work going on in the operations room.”
In 2017/18, the Sea Palling lifeboats and crew were called out (shouts) on 33 occasions by the Coastguard, with further numerous local calls for assistance from holiday makers who had difficulties on the beach and in the coastal waters between Eccles and Winterton-on-Sea.
Sheringham Shoal Community Find supports projects that make a difference in North Norfolk, tackling issues including climate change, sustainable communities, marine environment / safety, renewable energy and education / employment.
The Fund is administered by the Norfolk Community Foundation [www.norfolkfoundation.com]
The 317MW Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, which is operated by Equinor, is situated between 9-17 miles off the coast of North Norfolk.
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