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Caister Lifeboat ready for Royalty

PUBLISHED: 10:43 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:10 03 July 2010

The Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh

VOLUNTEERS at Caister Lifeboat are gearing up for a royal visit to celebrate the station's 40 years of independence.

In just under two weeks' time, the Duke of Edinburgh will visit the station.

VOLUNTEERS at Caister Lifeboat are gearing up for a royal visit to celebrate the station's 40 years of independence.

In just under two weeks' time, the Duke of Edinburgh will visit the station.

After a tour, Prince Philip will unveil a plaque marking the 40th anniversary of the independent lifeboat, and coxswain Paul Williams hopes the royal guest will take a trip to sea on the Bernard Matthews II. He said: “It will be a very proud day for us.”

He added several ex-crew-members who established the independent lifeboat were still involved with station today.

The first lifeboat was stationed at Caister in 1845 and taken over by the RNLI 12 years later. In 1865, the James Pearce Birmingham, a 42ft boat powered by 14 oars and sail, arrived. It saved 484 lives.

The boat, later renamed the Godsend, was replaced in 1892 by the Beauchump, but in 1901, after being launched, the lifeboat was found about an hour later capsized on the beach. Lifeboatman James Haylett was awarded the RNLI gold medal for his actions in saving three of the 12 crewmen. During the inquest into the accident, he made a statement which resulted in the station's motto: “Caister Men Never Turn Back.”

In 1969, the RNLI closed the station, which at the time had saved 1,814 people but on the day it shut, it was taken over by the crew led by Jack Woodhouse, firstly using a fibre-glass boat, then an inflatable. In 1973, the station bought a former RNLI vessel, renamed the Shirley Jean Adye.

A £400,000 public appeal in 1987 helped replace the boat with a modern, faster lifeboat. The Bernard Matthews was launched in June 1991, and since then the Bernard Matthews II has arrived.

The royal visit is the first of two key events, with a summer ball on August 8 at the Ocean Room, Gorleston. The 1960s party night will start at 7.30pm. Tickets £30, including a meal and coffee.

Tickets are available from Jason Delf on 07879 851594.

Meanwhile, the crew is sitting comfortably thanks to clients at Anglia Co-operative Funerals in Caister who have opted to donate their dividend. The money has been used to buy new seating for the crew's staffroom.

Andy Smith, senior branch manager at Anglia Co-opera-tive Funerals, said: “It is a pleasure to be able to provide comfortable seating for crew members who provide such a vital service to the local community and visitors.”

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