South Liverpool Lodge supports lifeboat

As an island nation, safety around our coastal waters is of paramount importance and we are fortunate to have the dedication of the RNLI members to help provide that safety. However, here in West Lancashire we are also fortunate to be able to call on the services of the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust.

Southport Offshore Rescue Trust lifeboat.

Southport Offshore Rescue Trust lifeboat.

The trust is independent of the RNLI and is a registered charity is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who not only provide 365 day, 24-hour lifesaving services along with a support team who help in managing the service and raising funds.

Following the recent ladies evening of South Liverpool Lodge No 2681 of the Garston Group of lodges and chapters, the WM and brethren took the decision to donate a sum of £400 in support of these incredibly brave and dedicated women and men. South Liverpool Lodge WM, Roy Smith who is a leader in the Southport District Scouting movement spoke with fellow scout leader Scot Harrison, who also happens to be a lifeboat volunteer. On hearing of the work of the trust, Roy and the South Liverpool Lodge brethren decided that this was where the monies should go.

The quote from the services own website, is both humbling and uplifting in equal measure.

“Southport Lifeboat has a proud and dramatic history, the earliest service, crewed and organised by local fishermen, was saving lives 20 years before the formation of the RNLI. In the 19th century Southport’s coast was one of the busiest and most dangerous in the country, for more than 100 years the oar and sail driven boats saved countless lives.

The Mexico disaster of 1886, in which 14 crewmembers of Southport’s Lifeboat and all 13 crewmembers of the St Anne’s lifeboat died, whilst trying to rescue the crew of the stricken barque. This catastrophe remains the highest loss of life in Lifeboat history.

Over time the sandbanks shifted and by the turn of the 20th century sail had giving way to steam. The Bog Hole channel at Southport Pier where the lifeboat was moored began to severely silt up. In 1925, the RNLI decided to withdraw its lifeboat service from Southport. In the 1980’s after a series of tragedies off our coast, bereaved relatives and local people campaigned to bring a rescue service back to the town.  Amazingly, after only 14 months of the idea being first mooted, the dream was realised. 180 years on, Southport once again had an independent lifeboat, paid for with your donations, crewed, and run by the people of Southport.

The crew, all unpaid dedicated volunteers, are immensely proud of their lifeboats history. The new service has helped rescue over 100 people, and three crew members have received bravery awards from the Shipwreck and Humane Society. The spirit and heroism and dedication of the 19th century lifeboat men lives on in the present-day crew.

Roy Smith presents the cheque to the Southport Offshore Lifeboat crew.

Roy Smith presents the cheque to the Southport Offshore Lifeboat crew.

Southport Lifeboat was reformed following accidents off the coast where local men lost their lives. After the accidents in 1987, bereaved relatives started a campaign to bring a lifeboat back to Southport. In December 1988, the first boat since 1925 came on station at Southport.”

The station is sited near the entrance to the Southport fun fair in a modest building which belies the work of the 40 strong team of women and men. However, plans are in place for a new purpose built station which will be sited on the seafront. The annual operational costs of some £40,000 to run the service is met by donations and the work of the charity shop team based on the corner of Claremont Road and Everton Road, Birkdale. On top of this is the cost of boats and equipment, which given that the cost of a replacement boat is £250,000 will give you some idea of the incredible work done in raising funds.

It is hoped that you will never be in need of their help but perhaps the next time you’re in the area you might take the time to visit the station, you will be made welcome. In the meantime, take a look at their website for further information and how you can help support their work.