Joy as new lifeboat is gifted to town

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A NEW £1.5 million lifeboat has been gifted to Montrose’s lifeboat crew, the first of its kind to be stationed anywhere in Scotland.

The Shannon-class vessel, designed by the RNLI’s own naval architects, features the latest technology and has been paid for with a bequest from a Morayshire solicitor who was a keen supporter of the charity.

Montrose was chosen for the new lifeboat after the RNLI conducted a coastal review, and local operations manager Ray Wilkie said the decision has come as a surprise to all at the station.

He said: “We welcome the confidence of the RNLI charity trustees to place the latest class of lifeboat at Montrose which will enable the current RNLI volunteers to continue the noble tradition of saving lives at sea that began here in 1800.

“The fact that the new Shannon-class lifeboat to be stationed at Montrose will be funded by a gift in a will is remarkable – and it has come as quite a surprise to us at Montrose lifeboat station. At the RNLI, we’re all extremely grateful for this most generous bequest.”

The vessel will undergo full sea trials later this year and be stationed in Montrose in 2013, although the exact date for its arrival has yet to be decided.

The legacy comes from the estate of Ruth Grant Smith and the new lifeboat will be named after her late husband, Ian Grant Smith.

Mrs Grant Smith died in December 2005 aged 99. The couple lived in Grantown-on-Spey after Mr Grant Smith retired from Brodie’s solicitors where he had been a partner. The couple held annual luncheon parties on New Year’s Day with the proceeds going to the RNLI.

Ronald Gardiner, a recently retired solicitor of Brodie’s and a friend of Mr and Mrs Grant Smith, said the couple did not have any children and were keen on supporting charities.

It is the second million-pound legacy to be allocated to Montrose, as the crew’s new lifeboat station is being financed with money from Fife couple Hugh and Molly Brown who left their entire estate to the RNLI.

The lifeboat’s design features twin water jets instead of propellers, allowing it to operate in shallow water and be highly manoeuvrable, giving the crew greater control when alongside other craft and in confined waters. The jets also reduce the risk of damage during launch and recovery, or when the vessel is intentionally beached. It will be the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to run on water jets instead of propellers.

The seats are designed to protect the crew members’ spines as much as possible from the forces of the sea in rough weather and it incorporates SIMS (System and Information Management System), allowing the crew to monitor the lifeboat from the safety of their seats, reducing the likelihood of injury during search and rescue operations.

With a top speed of 25 knots, the Shannon is also faster than the current lifeboat, a Tyne-class, which has a top speed of 17 knots.

Further information about including the RNLI in a will is available online at www.rnli.org.uk/legacy or by contacting Linda Aitken, the RNLI’s Legacy Manager for Scotland, on 01738 642999.