A teenage girl who won a competition to choose the name of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) latest Shannon class lifeboat officially named the lifesaving vessel at a special ceremony at RNLI HQ in Poole, Dorset, on July 17.
Competition winner Rachel Fairhurst, 14, in front of the Shannon class lifeboat Storm Rider at the lifeboat's naming ceremony.
Rachel Fairhurst, 14, welcomed Storm Rider into the RNLI’s relief fleet in glorious sunshine, in front of an audience of the lifesaving charity’s staff, volunteers and supporters. This is the first time in the charity’s 190 year history that a competition winner has named an RNLI lifeboat.
A competition to name the lifeboat was run through the RNLI’s Storm Force magazine, which goes to the charity’s 12,000 young members. The top five suggested names were shortlisted and RNLI supporters were asked to vote for their favourite, with Rachel’s choice of Storm Rider winning the vote.
Rachel, from Gateshead near Newcastle, said: ‘It was an absolute honour to name the lifeboat. I have huge respect for what the lifeboat crews do. I think it takes an exceptionally selfless person to go out and risk their lives to save others.’
Charles Hunter-Pease, Chairman of the RNLI, led the ceremony, which saw the fourth Shannon class lifeboat join the charity’s fleet – with Shannon class lifeboats entering service at Dungeness and Exmouth lifeboat stations earlier this year, and one Shannon already in the charity’s relief fleet.
Storm Rider was funded through the RNLI’s Summer and Christmas appeals of 2012, where £5M was raised by the charity’s supporters to help fund the first two relief fleet Shannon class lifeboats and their launch and recovery systems. The Shannon class lifeboat Jock and Annie Slater joined the RNLI’s relief fleet last Summer.
Hugh Fogarty, RNLI Head of Operations, said: ‘We are delighted that Rachel has officially welcomed Storm Rider into our fleet. This lifeboat is only here today because of the generosity of our fantastic supporters. I’d like to thank everyone who supported our appeals which helped fund two Shannon class lifeboats and their launch and recovery systems. These lifesaving vessels will help save lives at sea around the coasts of the UK and Ireland for years to come.’
The RNLI’s current Summer appeal is again raising vital money to help fund Shannon class lifeboats. Nine Mersey and Tyne class lifeboats are nearing the end of their 25-year lifespan and need to be replaced over the next 18 months with the faster, more agile Shannon class. To support the appeal, please visit RNLI.org.uk/730lives
The Shannon is the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets instead of propellers, making it the most agile all-weather lifeboat in the charity’s fleet. The lifeboat’s water jets also allow the Shannon to reach casualties in harder to reach places and in shallower waters.
Capable of 25 knots, the Shannon is 50 per cent faster than the lifeboats it is replacing. Over 50 Shannon class lifeboats will enter the RNLI’s fleet over the next 10 years, with the charity set to achieve its strategic objective of a 25 knot all-weather lifeboat fleet by 2019.
After 25 years of service, each Shannon will undergo a total refit where the machinery, systems and equipment will be renewed or replaced – creating a new Shannon class lifeboat ready to save lives at sea for a further 25 years.