A Norfolk charity which works to restore and preserve important maritime heritage has been awarded a grant of almost £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

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Rescue Wooden Boats, which was launched last year, has secured £99,300 to restore Lucy Lavers, a single-screw Liverpool type lifeboat used at the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

This will account for 67pc of the projected costs of the restoration.

The aim is to restore the wooden boat in time to return to Dunkirk in 2015 for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the evacuation of troops from the beaches in 1940.

When fully restored she will be returned to the water in Wells, where she once served, providing a living piece of history for the community to enjoy and learn from.

Rescue Wooden Boats, based at Stiffkey near Wells, aims to acquire, restore, maintain and use heritage maritime wooden craft.

It will also provide information about the crafts’ histories, construction, maintenance and use as well as education on the traditional skills involved in all of these.

Rescue Wooden Boats was founded by brothers David and George Hewitt, from Blakeney, who are boat builders, craftsmen and wooden working boat owners and Graham Peart, from Saxlingham and Wendy Pritchard from Burnham Norton who are wooden boat owners and enthusiasts.

Ms Pritchard said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding. The grant means a great deal to our charity and, more importantly, it means that we can now restore Lucy Lavers to her full potential and start to raise funds to take her back to Dunkirk in 2015.

“We hope to share Lucy Lavers’ story with schools, adult groups and with the wider region.

“The restoration work will be recorded on film and in photographs, which will be displayed in the Rescue Wooden Boats visitor centre which we hope to open soon and in the workshop in Stiffkey.”

Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “We are pleased to support Rescue Wooden Boats with this project. Lucy Lavers is undoubtedly a significant part of our maritime and wartime history and there are still local people around who served on Lucy Lavers and remember her when she was in service.

“The craftsmanship involved in restoring her means that the very specialist skills required in a project of this type will be conserved as well as the vessel itself.”

After her trip to Dunkirk in 2015, Lucy Lavers will be used for learning visits and trips over the summer and for maintenance and learning visits in the winter,

The fund-raising associated with her summer activities will support her winter maintenance.

Rescue Wooden Boats will continue to involve schools, history and adult education groups and the general public in understanding and learning from Lucy Lavers’ history and construction.

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