This has been a good year for the Life Boat in all areas of activity. The operational aspect has been very successful. In addition to routine ‘jobs’ such as providing safety cover at events such as Hope Cove Weekend, and Bantham Sailing Club regatta, we have been ‘called out’ on over two dozen occasions, all, thankfully with a happy ending. These tasks have included towing a stranded vessel with engine failure, small craft such as dinghies or windsurfers being swept out to sea, walkers stranded by the tide, craft drifting dangerously close to rocks, and swimmers in difficulty when wild swimming. As usual we have been involved in rescues that have involved just our own boat and crew members, as well as joint operations with other emergency services such as the police, The MCA Coastguard, The Air Ambulance, RNLI Lifeguards, and neighbouring RNLI Life Boats from Salcombe and Plymouth. With regard to the latter, we were privileged to be invited, in October, to the centenary commemoration of the Salcombe Life Boat disaster, when 13 crew members lost their lives in 1916. We turned out in force to support them and it was great see our members looking so smart in ‘number 1 ‘uniform
The professionalism and commitment of our crew members continues to go from strength to strength, and it is heartening to see excellent attendance on training evenings and mornings and an influx of young ‘trainees’ eager to join. It is all credit to our dedicated training team, and a mark of our ever improving standards is the continual updating of our new ‘Schedules of Procedures ( SOP’s). To comply with these, not only are we grateful to our ‘in-house’ training, but thanks to the acquisition of some Government Grants, we have been able to send members on training courses run by outside agencies to gain qualifications in areas including VHF Radio, First Aid, Fire Fighting, Trailer Launching, and Navigation.
We are fortunate to have a top of the range boat, comparable to those used by any other emergency service in the Country. We are continually up-grading and this year bought two new 90 Horse Power engines. Early in the season, we found that one engine was not functioning at 100%, and following investigation there appeared to be damage in the cylinder. To ensure reliability, we replaced both, keeping the one ‘good’ engine as a spare. All our lifejackets continue to be serviced on a ‘rolling’ process and this year our ‘self-righting bag’ also received its bi-annual service.
However, all these items, are of no use if we cannot get the boat in to the water! Half way through the year we noticed worrying wear and tear on our launch vehicle. Consequently this has been replaced by a brand new ‘Claas 90’ tractor especially customised by our local suppliers for work in salt water. At the moment, everything on the boat is in good shape and we are always proud to ‘show it off’, happy to give tours to the many individuals and groups who support us ranging from, business groups such as ‘The Rotary’, ladies groups such as The W.I, and younger organisations including school parties and ‘Cubs’ and ‘Brownies’.
It must be remembered that all our members are volunteers, and our only income is through donations and fund raising, once again carried out by volunteers. Again this year we have been humbled by the wealth of support demonstrated by so many, both locally, throughout the South West, and indeed, further afield. In addition to our annual running costs, we have set ourselves a target of putting aside £15,000.00 a year since 2011, knowing that in 2021 we will need to buy a new boat, which will be in the region of £150,000.00. It is heartening to know that as we approach the end of this year, our finances are on target, and any interested parties are more than welcome to view our accounts on the Charities Commission web site.
It would be invidious to single out any particular group, but I suppose it is fair to say that the bulk of our ‘bread and butter’ income is a result of our highly popular and successful 50/50 Club. With over 250 members, the draw at the end of each month is one of the local highlights, and we are extremely grateful to the pubs, hotels, cafes, and bars in the village for kindly hosting this activity. Collecting tins scattered around a wide range of retail outlets in the South Hams continue to be well supported, and the year round sale of customized clothing and memorabilia provides a vital source of income.
Of course, we are always grateful to individuals who make handsome donations, very often anonymously, and those who leave a legacy to the Life Boat in their estate. In addition to these there are regular events throughout the year, and also ‘one off’ events that help to swell the coffers. This year we have been fortunate to benefit by gaining sizeable amounts from events which have included sponsored swims, sponsored kayaking, local fetes and fairs, organisations such as Golf Clubs and Schools adopting us as their ‘Charity for The Year’, A variety of Quiz nights at a variety of locations, coffee mornings, cake sales, raffles, sponsored walks and runs, and functions hosted by various groups locally and further afield. We are very lucky and never cease to be amazed by the generosity of so many.
Ever mindful of what others do for us we try, as a Life Boat, to let the community know what we do, how we operate, and also be involved in the life of the community. Much of this is done through the events mentioned above, but one area not yet covered is our involvement with the local church. Since our foundation, the local vicar, Faith Cully, has been a staunch supporter of the Boat. Praying for us each week, she even persuaded the Bishop of Plymouth to come and bless our first launch. Over the years the boat has helped in various church services, the scattering of ashes at sea, and even ‘doubling up as a camel’ in the Epiphany service earlier this year! At the end of October, Faith retired and moved back to her native Ireland. A huge crowd gathered in The Hope and Anchor to wish her ‘bon voyage’ and she was presented with a jacket making her an ‘honorary crew member’. Although she is gone, her spirit is still with us, and if we all demonstrate the ‘Faith’ that Faith showed, the future of the Life Boat is in good hands.
Chairman Hope Cove Life Boat
Below are some links to mentions in local and regional newspapers, local radio and even BBC and ITV television sent crews to film the boat in action. Links to most of these items are below;