Southport woman raises £1.4m for lifeboat house following death of her son

Video report by ITV Granada's Victoria Grimes

A long awaited lifeboat station has opened in Southport after a very special fundraiser set up a charity shop to help pay for it.

Costing £1.4m it has taken 20 years to raise the money and more than three years to build the boathouse for the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust.

Kath Wilson has dedicated decades to the trust

Kath Wilson founded the trust in 1987 after her son, Geoff Clements, lost his life off the Southport coast while out fishing with friends.

"I decided there and then to start a fund off to get our own lifeboat," she said.

The charity shop run by Kath Wilson has funded the new boathouse

Ms Wilson opened the Southport Lifeboat charity shop in Birkdale in 2005, which has been raising money to pay for a new lifeboat station ever since.

She said she could not believe how wonderful it looked, adding: "It brought a tear to my eye."

Geoff Clements, lost his life in 1987

Ms Wilson said: "This building is for the people of Southport.

"It’s for everyone who has donated, bought something in the shop, played LifeboatLotto, volunteered for the charity or helped in any way, shape or form."

The old site, built in 1886, and home to Southport Lifeboat for more than 30 years, was described as "outdated."

The trust, which is independent of the RNLI first received planning permission in August 2015 for a larger, purpose-built station.

The RNLI does not have a team based in the town and has not since the 1920's.

Since first operating in 1988, Southport Lifeboat - which is run entirely by volunteers - has helped in the safe return of over 400 people.Alan Porter, Chairman of the board of Trustee Directors at the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust said; ‘We would like to thank the people of Southport for their support, without whom this fabulous achievement would not be possible."

The trust said they worked with Natural England to ensure minimal impact to the physical environment.