How much do we need to raise? We were initially asked to raise £300,000 in three years. our fund raisers managed this much in two years. However we now know that our new station will cost in the region of £4 million so we have to keep fund raising at the same pace.
What will it be used for?
A new station to house Weston’s two lifeboats. The previous station on Birnbeck Pier was abandoned in November 2013 when it was finally declared unsafe to get to and use. The volunteer crew currently has a temporary station by Knightstone.
Bristol Channel yachtsmen have many challenges to cope with including powerful tidal streams caused by the second highest tides in the world. As they learn and as they practice they have one reassuring thought in their minds. If they do run into trouble, if their skills or the boat do let them down, they will not be alone. Time after time on both sides of the Channel the call goes out, the pagers shriek and the volunteers of the RNLI come out to save those in trouble.
There are 14 RNLI Lifeboat stations in the Bristol Channel, which stretches from Hartland Point in Devon to St Govan’s Head in Pembrokeshire, as well as support from the Burnham-on-Sea Area Rescue Boat (BARB), the Portishead Lifeboat Trust and the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA).
There are 22 RNLI Lifeboats in the Bristol Channel. Eleven are the small D Class, the workhorse of the RNLI, which carries out over 60% of its rescues. Seven are the B Class or Atlantic RIBs, the fastest lifeboats in the fleet and four are the bigger all weather lifeboats.
The preponderance of inshore lifeboats reflects the conditions where most of the rescues are in shallow water, on rocks or in mud. In the first six months of 2013 theses 22 boats carried out 304 rescues of all types.
The RNLI is a charity entirely dependent on public donations. It costs £150m a year in running costs just to keep still. The Lifeboat stations and Lifeboats provided to the volunteer crews are state of art as one would expect when ordinary people are asked to do extraordinary things to help others.
When new facilities are needed the RNLI has to launch appeals to provide the money for buildings and equipment.
A new RNLI Appeal has been launched for the Bristol Channel. The initial aims of the RNLI Bristol Channel Appeal are to provide new lifeboat stations at Weston-super-Mare and Portishead. After that it will provide for any other developments in the other stations in the area.
Weston is one of the oldest stations in the Bristol Channel. Established in 1882 it currently has two inshore lifeboats a D Class and an Atlantic 75. These were berthed at Birnbeck Island on the north of Weston Bay. In its heyday Birnbeck Island was a mecca for both entertainment and as a landing place for steamers ferrying across the Channel to Cardiff.
However the building of the bridges and the opening up of the Welsh seaboard spelt the death knell of the steamers. Changes in tourist habits meant that entertainment could no longer keep Birnbeck alive. For the last ten years it is only the RNLI crews who have used the island. The boat house and shed, which houses lifeboats, are okay, but the quarter mile long pier along which the crew have to run to get to their craft is in danger of falling into the sea. Although Birnbeck might have been the best place to launch lifeboats in yesteryear its time is now over.
The RNLI has guaranteed it will continue to provide rescue services in Weston, albeit in temporary facilities for now.
If you cruise the Bristol Channel and its surrounding waters you may like to consider supporting the RNLI Appeal either individually or as a yacht club.