Legacy of life-long RNLI volunteer helps fund next Skegness lifeboat
Russell Matthews, 24/4/12
Prototype RNLI Shannon class lifeboat. (Credit RNLI)
A legacy from dedicated Skegness RNLI volunteer Joel Grunnill MBE will help fund the town’s next all-weather lifeboat, which is to be named Joel and April Grunnill.
The new lifeboat is expected to go on service in 2016 and will be an innovative £1.5m Shannon class lifeboat, replacing Skegness’s current RNLI Mersey class lifeboat, Lincolnshire Poacher, when she comes to the end of her operational life.
Joel was a life-long RNLI volunteer. He helped collect money for the charity as a small child and served as a lifeboatman for 45 years, joining the crew at the age of just 15 at the start of the Second World War. He later became Second Coxswain, holding the position for 33 years and helping to save 197 people.
In later years, Joel became the Skegness Lifeboat Station Honorary Secretary and then Chairman until his death last May at the age of 86. He was awarded an MBE for services to the RNLI in 2008.
His cousin April Grunnill, who ran a motor mechanic business in Skegness with Joel until their retirement in 1989, has also made a large donation to help fund the lifeboat. April is an RNLI Box Secretary, emptying and counting donations in 200 RNLI collection boxes locally and over the years has collected £200,000 for the charity.
She said Joel was a very modest man who had dedicated much of his life to the RNLI, adding: 'Members of the Grunnill family served on the lifeboat from the early 1800s and Joel was the last of the family to do so. I know he would be thrilled that the family’s connection with the RNLI in Skegness will continue for many years to come in the form of this new lifeboat.'
The lifeboat crew at Skegness were told by April last night (Monday 23 April) that Joel’s legacy would help provide them with a new all-weather lifeboat. Alan Fisher, Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said it was a huge surprise for everyone.
He added: 'The new lifeboat will be a fitting legacy of a man who was devoted to the RNLI. Every time the volunteer crew go to sea, I know they will be thinking of Joel and all the help and support he gave them over the years. He was a quiet man but had a wealth of knowledge and experience which he was always willing to share with the crew.
'Our grateful thanks go out to both him and April for this wonderful gift. The Shannon class lifeboat is a new generation of RNLI vessel, quite different from our current lifeboat, and I know everyone connected with the RNLI in Skegness is very much looking forward to the day she arrives at our lifeboat station.'
The Shannon has been designed in-house by RNLI naval architects who have harnessed cutting-edge technology to ensure the new lifeboat meets the demands of a 21st century rescue service and to allow the charity’s volunteer crews to do their lifesaving work as safely as possible in all weather conditions.
The new 25 knot lifeboat features twin water jets instead of conventional propellers, allowing her to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable, giving the crew greater control when alongside other craft and when in confined waters. The water jets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached. She will be the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to run on water jets instead of propellers.
The Shannon’s seats are designed to protect the crew members’ spines as much as possible from the forces of the sea in rough weather. Additionally, the Shannon incorporates SIMS (System and Information Management System) which allows the crew to monitor the lifeboat from the safety of their seats, again reducing the likelihood of injury to the volunteer crew members during search and rescue operations.
The new class of lifeboat is currently undergoing sea trials and the first operational Shannon class lifeboat will go into service next year.
New RNLI lifejackets for Skegness lifesavers funded by local Lifeboat Ball
Russell Matthews, 2/4/12
Skegness lifeboat crew unveil their new lifejackets outside the lifeboat station. All-weather lifeboat lifejackets back row. Inshore lifeboat lifejackets front row. (Credit: RNLI Skegness)
Volunteer RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat crew members at Skegness lifeboat station have today (Monday) unveiled their new state-of-the-art lifejackets, funded by proceeds from The Lifeboat Ball supported by Centrica Energy.
Incorporating the latest material technology, the new lifejackets have been designed by the RNLI and manufacturer Crewsaver specifically to meet the charity’s search and rescue requirements and are a far cry from the original cork lifejackets invented by RNLI Inspector Captain Ward in 1854.
At a cost of over £300 each, the new lifejackets are being gradually rolled-out to RNLI stations around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland during 2012. In Skegness, the full cost of the 21 lifejackets supplied to the station (approx £6,600) has been met from proceeds of The Lifeboat Ball, held in the town in October.
The Lifeboat Ball organiser, second coxswain Ray Chapman said he was delighted the proceeds from the ball had been used locally to provide the new lifejackets, and offered his thanks to all those involved with the event.
Ray said: 'We're all extremely grateful for the huge amount of support The Lifeboat Ball received from Centrica Energy, local businesses and sponsors, and our guests on the night. It's great to see the proceeds being used at Skegness to fund such a vital and visible part of the crew's safety.'
The two new lifejacket designs - one for the all-weather lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher and one for the inshore lifeboat Peterborough Beer Festival IV - are lighter, less bulky and more comfortable, featuring an integrated harness designed to pull the lifejacket away from the wearer's neck.
Both designs also feature zipped pockets for casualty care kits, torches, gloves or knives, integrated pouches for personal distress flares, an emergency light and whistle, and a spray hood to protect the wearer from sea water spray.
Andy Clift, RNLI Divisional Inspector, North said: ‘The RNLI has always tried to provide our volunteers with the very best equipment to ensure they can operate as safely and effectively as possible. These new lifejackets incorporate the best modern technology available to help our volunteer crews carry on doing what they have done for the past two centuries – save lives at sea.'
With the crew having familiarised themselves with the new design and gaining confidence in their use during an exercise tonight, the lifejackets are ready to be used the next time either of the Skegness lifeboats are called into action off the Lincolnshire coast.
1. Skegness lifeboat crew wear unveil their new lifejackets outside the lifeboat station. All-weather lifeboat lifejackets back row. Inshore lifeboat lifejackets front row. Back row, centre is Coxswain John Irving with Lifeboat Ball organisers Russell Matthews (left) and Ray Chapman (right). (Credit: RNLI Skegness.)
2. Crew member Tony Kelly prepares to jump from the Skegness lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher to test the automatic inflation function of the new all-weather lifeboat lifejacket. (Credit: RNLI Skegness.)
3. Crew member Tony Kelly demonstrates the spray hood on an inflated all-weather lifeboat lifejacket. (Credit: RNLI Skegness.)
The Lifeboat Ball
• The Lifeboat Ball 2011 Sponsors and Supporters: Centrica Energy, MPI Offshore, Sid Dennis & Sons Ltd, Taylors of Skegness, Blue Anchor Leisure Ltd, Skegness Springs Ltd, East Lindsey District Council, Bray Design, Copystat, Batemans Brewery, Boston Audi, RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, The Lifeboat College, City Electrical Factors, Kuki Helicopters, Alexanders, North Shore Hotel, Hallgate Security, The Piano Academy, MKM, Stewarts Bar & Restaurant, SSP Hats, Jacksons Building Centres, Keith Fear Electrical, Hodgkinsons Solicitors, Facial Attraction, Manorcrest Homes, Little Learners, Fenland Laundries, Carter Signs, Brough Hall & Co, Miles Hartley, Michael Fagan, Nigel Millard, Dean Godden.
• The Lifeboat Ball 2012 will held on Saturday 6 October 2012 at The Suncastle, Skegness. Tickets will be available soon...
Additional Lifejacket Notes
• These innovative all-weather and inshore lifejackets, incorporating the latest material technology, were designed specifically to meet the RNLI’s current search and rescue operational requirements. Led by an RNLI technical expert and through close consultation with volunteer crews around the coast, the RNLI was able to bring a wealth of detailed user feedback into the two-year development process and ensure its crews were completely happy with the design.
• The RNLI has a ‘one size fits all’ policy. The lifejackets will provide increased safety for all size and shapes of crew member and a comfortable, secure fit leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness in lifesaving. They are fitted with crotch straps (which prevent the lifejacket riding up over the crew member’s head when in the water) and an integrated harness (designed to pull the lifejacket away from the wearer’s neck, allowing for greater freedom of movement whilst rescuing those in trouble).
• On top of all these features, the lifejacket holds zipped pockets for casualty care kit, torches, gloves or knives. A spray hood to protect against sea spray is also included in the design.
• The inshore lifejacket has a single 290 newtons manually inflated chamber with 90 newtons of inherent foam buoyancy. Fully inflated, the lifejacket has a total of 380 newtons of buoyancy.
• The all-weather lifejacket is a twin chamber lifejacket. Each chamber has 290 newtons of buoyancy - one which automatically inflates and the other which can be manually inflated. If both chambers are inflated they will pressure equalise so that there is never more than 290 newtons of buoyancy.
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