The official opening of Swanage RNLI’s new boathouse and naming ceremony for the Shannon class lifeboat George Thomas Lacy took place on 29 April 2017. Hundreds of invited guests were in attendance, with many more local people and holiday makers occupying vantage points around the lifeboat station, situated at the eastern end of the town.
The Shannon class lifeboat arrived at the station in April 2016. Sje was funded by several group and individual donations and legacies, the largest coming from George Lacy. Mr Lacy, from Dorset, passed away at the age of 94 and it was his wish that a generous portion of his estate should go to the RNLI to be used at a station along the Dorset coast.
The Swanage lifeboat station had to be rebuilt to accommodate the new Shannon lifeboat and the new state-of-the-art boathouse provides improved crew facilities, housing for both all-weather and inshore lifeboats, as well as a souvenir shop and viewing gallery for visitors.
A proportion of the funding for the building came from a huge local appeal, which raised £465,000, as well as several donations from groups and individuals. The new building became operational earlier this year, making Swanage the only RNLI station which has a Shannon launched down a slipway; most Shannons are launched from a special launch and recovery system off a beach or kept afloat.
Peter Foster, Chair of Swanage Lifeboat Management Group, welcomed guests to the ceremony, saying: ‘Benefactors like those of Mr Lacy are very important to the longevity of the RNLI enabling them to save lives at sea with the demand increasing year on year. Many of you here today give your time as volunteers, which accounts for 95 per cent of the total of people involved with the lifeboats. Without you and the fantastic fundraising efforts and amounts you raise the RNLI would not exist. Our magnificent fundraising efforts here in Swanage, with the help of our local branches, raised £465,000 towards the cost of the new station for which on behalf of all the volunteers at the station I am truly thankful.’