Memorial welcomed by RNLI crews

PUBLISHED: 11:52 13 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:45 03 July 2010

MORE than 80 lifeboat crewmen from stations across Norfolk and north Suffolk are to be honoured on a new memorial to those who died helping to save others.

MORE than 80 lifeboat crewmen from stations across Norfolk and north Suffolk are to be honoured on a new memorial to those who died helping to save others.

Present-day crews last night welcomed the tribute outside the RNLI's headquarters in Poole, Dorset, which will also honour other maritime lifesavers including those from HM Coastguard.

Lifeboat representatives from across the region will be invited to the unveiling of the monument, a steel sculpture of a lifesaver in a boat saving someone from the water, in the autumn.

The RNLI had invited submissions from artists for an inspirational design and a selection panel chose the vision of sculptor Sam Holland, which was thought to symbolise the history and future of the RNLI.

The roll of those who perished during active service from present and past stations includes 41 crew from Yarmouth and Gorleston, 20 from Caister, 11 from Wells, three from Southwold, two from Bacton, two from Cromer, and one each from Brancaster, Kessingland and Sea Palling.

The memorial will reflect a century and a half of heroism and highlight such well-documented tragedies in the region's maritime history as the capsizing of the Wells-based Eliza Adams lifeboat on October 29, 1880, when 11 out of the 13 crew drowned.

The lifeboat had gone out to sea in a severe northerly gale and had saved the seven crew of the Sharon's Rose before a second sortie going to the aid of the Ocean Queen ended in disaster.

Wells RNLI coxswain mechanic Allen Frary, whose great-grand-father William Bell was one of the survivors of the Eliza Adams disaster, said of the memorial: “It's a fitting tribute to all those involved in saving lives at sea.”

Caister lifeboat station, near Yarmouth, has been run independ-ently since 1969, but its previous rich history under the RNLI is reflected on the memorial.

Included are the names of the nine Caister crewmen who perished on the night of November 13, 1901, when the lifeboat Beauchamp was lost attempting a rescue in heavy seas. It was as a result of that rescue that the phrase 'Caister men never turn back' was coined.

The name of one of the RNLI's most recent victims, Caister coxswain R W Benny Read, who died on September 1, 1991, when a maroon exploded, will also be honoured.

Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat operations manager Neal Duffield said the memorial would “remind us all of the commitment and dedication of those involved with maritime search and rescue past and present”.

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