January 2014 update

We had three Shouts over the Christmas period. Two were within two hours of each other on the morning of 23 December. The third was on 30 Dec to help a local yacht that had lost power and was struggling to enter the harbour safely. The first two calls from the Coastguard were in extreme wind conditions to vessels in the harbour. The first was to a person in difficulty in a dinghy on the Deep Water Pontoon; the second to a large vessel which had broken it’s mooring on KB trot. The lifeboat crew was able to establish that the gentleman in the dinghy had got back to his own boat and were able to assist him in securing his neighbour’s vessel. The second launch request resulted in the crew assisting in securing a further 6 vessels. Questions have been raised as to whether it is the role of the RNLI to assist vessels in this way. Our primary aim is, and always will be, to save life. The first call was to a sailor in a small boat attempting to secure a vessel by himself in extreme conditions and the caller to the Coastguard thought he was in danger. We will go to the aid of vessels breaking free of their moorings if there is a danger to other people living aboard their boats in the harbour from an unsecured vessel. There is also the danger of boatmen going to the aid of their own vessels in these conditions and putting themselves in harm’s way.
The video footage shot by the crews of the two launches on the 23rd are on the web site www.dartlifeboat.org.uk. BBC1 and Channel 4 have both asked to use the footage in future programmes.
Two Dart RNLI crew members also were called out twice on Flood Rescue duties. When the tidal surge was due to hit the east coast the South team were mustered to meet at Swindon so that they could be deployed as a back-up to the teams nearer the scene. On that night all sixteen RNLI flood rescue boats were deployed. The second call was on 6 Jan to muster at Christchurch Fire station in Dorset. Yorkie Lomas was in Team 1 that checked out a submerged car in the river at Wimborne St Giles and they were also sent to check on the safety of other people trapped by the flooding.

Chairman’s Corner
Season’s Greetings from your new Chairman! Since my election I have been examining how the Branch is run and how it compares to the Berkhamsted Branch, which is where I was last, and with Brixham, one of the most successful of the local branches. As a result we hope to make a few changes which will, over the next year, increase the number of events which are just for “Friends of the Dart Lifeboat” and their guests. The intention is to make being a “Friend” more rewarding and fun, as well as raising more money for our Dart Lifeboat. I am also hoping that this will encourage more people to join us.

Your Committee is also short of numbers and I would welcome more of you to volunteer to join us in organising our fundraising programme. We have already welcomed Michelle Concannon, Manager of Yorkshire Building Society to our ranks. Ann Irish has also volunteered and will join us in the New Year, but we need more volunteers to serve on the Committee. Please contact me at ed.featherstone@btinternet.com or call 07889953974 if you think you can help.
I am very sad to tell you that Colin Myers has resigned as Treasurer, for entirely personal reasons. We all owe Colin a huge debt of gratitude for all the hard work and time he has contributed during his period of office.  He has handed over to Ian McMaster. Ian was our first Fundraising Treasurer and campaigned hard for the Dart lifeboat to be set up.

 We are also indebted to Tony Kirkland, who with his wife Penny, has run the mobile Souvenir Stall and the weekly market stall very successfully. Tony and Penny have other pressing commitments, so Tony no longer has the capacity to do the job. We thank them both wholeheartedly for their dedication and hard work. The Committee and I are investigating new ways of operating an RNLI souvenir sales function, including the possibility of a shop in Dartmouth. If you are interested in being Souvenir  Secretary or would be a volunteer in a shop, please let me know.

 Christmas is the season for giving and I am sure you will be pleased to know that our Dart Lifeboat Branch has been given substantial gifts by such diverse organisations as Dartmouth Young Farmers, Royal Dart Yacht Club and the Green Dragon at Stoke Fleming. Consequently the end of year figures for 2013 look very impressive.  

From Monday 20 to Wed 29 John Fenton and other members of the Dart Education team, as well as crew members, will be visiting all the local schools and telling them what we have achieved over the last year. Do support your children if they ask to dress up for the events and support the local RNLI team.
There are several fundraising events in the New Year to coincide with the RNLI’s annual national SOS week. The first is “Sink Our Ship” on Saturday 25 January at the Boat Float. An 8 man ship’s life raft will be moored in the Boat Float from 11am to 1pm attached to the shore by a long tube, down which members of the public will be invited to make their donations. Would you like to be the person who sets off the mechanism to inflate the liferaft, or donate the opportunity to someone else? I have an opening bid for £50. If you wish to outbid that please telephone me on 01803 835328 There are photographs of last year’s  event on the web site under the Photos tab. Scroll down to SOS 2013. Come down to support our crew members for what may well be a cold few hours. Tell your friends to get down there too!

On Thursday 30 Jan there will be a Quiz and Curry night with Raffle in our aid at the Brill Plaice in Stoke Fleming. Half the bar takings also come to the lifeboat. It is all being arranged by Eiran Higgins. There will be teams of four, or come and join a team on the night. Cost is £10pp. and the doors open at 6.30pm to start at 7. Please phone Eiran to book a table or a place asap on 01803 771037 or on 01803 770007 from the 25th. Raffle ticket sales, at the take away or restaurant, start on Sat 25 Jan as well as on the night.

On Friday 31 January we will be bag packing at Sainsburys from 10am to 2 pm. Basically, each volunteer dons a sash or tabard supplied by me and asks customers if you can pack their bags. The bucket is present for donations. We will also have a volunteer and a crew member in kit at the entrance taking more donations and the lifeboat will be at the entrance of the store. Each stint will be for one hour of your time. Thank you to all those who have volunteered already but we need a few more, please. Once again, phone or email me with your preferred hour!

 In March we have two events. Firstly, on 12 March, we have a talk at the Dartmouth Yacht Club by Jason Phillips, The Commander at BRNC, on the subject of “Aircraft Carriers.” Those of you who have met him will know he is a great speaker. Put the date in your diary now and get your friends along too. Tickets will be £5 either in advance or at the door. There will be refreshments.

 The second event will be on 20 March and is your Annual General Meeting. I intend that our AGMs will be fun events, as well as dealing with the serious business of ensuring scrutiny of the work of me and the Committee. We have invited Vice Admiral Paul Boissier, the CEO of RNLI to be our guest speaker. There will be refreshments. Clare Thorp, our Secretary, will be sending out a calling notice in January inviting submission of any motions or items for discussion. The agenda will be sent out in late February. Remember, this is your AGM, your opportunity to ask questions of me and the other Officers of the Branch and a great opportunity to meet other Friends of the RNLI Dart Lifeboat.

 On 9 May we intend to run a fundraising Gala Dinner at the Dartmouth Golf and Country Club. It will be a black tie event with seats at £75 each on tables of 10. This prestigious event will include a demonstration of cookery by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks and chat about food by Tom Parker Bowles, a four course dinner, plus food and wine tastings and finally an auction of promises. For more information and to book a place or a table, contact Kevin John at kevin.john@enigmaks.co.uk or Michelle Concannon at concannon586@btinternet.com  We hope to sell most of the 16 or more tables by the end of February.    

 Ed Featherstone. Dart RNLI Fundraising Chairman

Posted on Thu 23 Jan 2014 by J Fenton

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