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Crew at Norfolk lifeboat station celebrate 150th anniversary with recruitment drive

  • Malcolm Robertson reports

A lifeboat station in Norfolk is marking its 150th anniversary with a recruitment drive to find more people to help save lives at sea.

Founded in 1869, Wells station is in possession of the oldest boat in the Royal Norfolk Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and has saved the lives of 265 people since its creation.

The station is getting ready to expand. Old equipment will be replaced and a boathouse worth five million pounds will be built.

"It [the boathouse] is going to be much nearer to the beach bank and that’s great for us because during the very big storm surge tides it’s very wet here across the beach and we have to scramble through the trees to get to the boathouse”

– Peter Rainsford, Chairman
Plans for the new boathouse Credit: ITV News Anglia

The expansion will mean that the 60 volunteers they currently have will no longer be enough. In light of the milestone anniversary, the crew will host a recruitment day this weekend (Saturday 19 October) to encourage more people to volunteer for the charity.

Volunteers outside Wells Lifeboat Station Credit: ITV News Anglia

James Betteridge, who has been a crew member for fourteen years, says the station is crucial to the local community.

“It’s vital, and has been for over 150 years around the coastline, it’s invaluable and can only operate due to the voluntary nature of the whole of the RNLI”

– James Betteridge, Crew

But it's not all about the boats. The crew say they are looking for volunteers with a wide skill-set.

“It’s about the whole background, so fundraising, operations managers, press areas.”

– James Betteridge, Crew

The charity says that it is particularly looking for volunteers who are close enough to respond to emergency calls.

Crew from the Wells Lifeboat Station rescuing two local fisherman Credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

“It’s no help really once they’re ten mile inland, it’s too far. We’re running out of locals.”

– Nicky King, Coxswain

The recruitment day will take place this Saturday at the Wells Lifeboat Station. Check out the video below for more.