Photo gallery: Dunkirk veteran lifeboat, Lucy Lavers, helps raise thousands for north Norfolk heritage marine charity

The Rescue Wooden Boats auction at Bayfield. Some of the model boats on display. Picture: ANTONY KELLY The Rescue Wooden Boats auction at Bayfield. Some of the model boats on display. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, August 8, 2014
10:45 AM

She will be forever remembered in history for her part in the Dunkirk rescue operation and now, thanks to a unique auction event, the seats on the 1940 vessel have helped to raise £5,000 for a Norfolk charity.

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The Rescue Wooden Boats auction at Bayfield.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Rescue Wooden Boats auction at Bayfield. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Lucy Lavers lifeboat was built for Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station in Suffolk and later served as a relief lifeboat at Wells.

Now she is being brought back to life by a restoration project led by heritage maritime charity Rescue Wooden Boats.

And as part of that project the group beind the plans held a special auction event last night (Wednesday) at the 18th century Bayfield Hall, near Holt, which saw people bid for one of nine spots on the boat for her 2015 journey to Dunkirk and back to Norfolk by sea for the 75th anniversary.

Trustee Wendy Pritchard praised the “great success of the evening” and thanked the number of people involved with its organisation.

About Rescue Wooden Boats

• Four enthusiasts, boatbuilders David Hewitt and George Hewitt, together with wooden working boat owners Graeme Peart and Wendy Pritchard, based in north Norfolk decided in 2010 to set up the charitable trust.

• Its purpose is to acquire, restore, maintain and use examples of heritage maritime wooden working craft and in so doing, tell their stories through the people who crewed them and provide education about their history, construction, maintenance and use as well as about the crafts involved in all of these.

• To become involved with the charity you can become a ‘friend’ and ‘donor’.

• Current projects include Lucy Lavers’ restoration and maintenance, Black Beauty’s restoration and maintenance and Bessie’s restoration and maintenance.

• Future plans include inviting educational visits and trips to the the Visitor Centre and the yard to build understanding of the history of working boats and the crafts involved in their building, maintenance and use, as well as the films and photographs providing educational and archive value.

She said: “Several hundred people came and so many enjoyed it because there was so many things to see and look at. The highlight was obviously the auction and it was nicely done.”

The auction was overseen by former director of Christie’s auction house, Peter Arbuthnot, who volunteered his time for the event. Rescue Wooden Boats patron Robin Combe, owner of the Bayfield Hall Estate, also donated the use of the building.

Ms Pritchard estimated about £5,000 was raised from this section of the auction alone. Money was also raised for the Wells Shannon Lifeboat Appeal.

She added: “It’s really important for us to hold events like this because it is not just about fundraising but also raising awareness so people can find out more about what we are doing.

“We are a young charity but we are also looking for volunteers who have a few hours a month to help us - we may have recruited some new ones from this event already.”

Ms Pritchard hoped to annouce the final figure raised next week.

Lucy Lavers was donated to Rescue Wooden Boats for restoration by the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust, where she will be restored to her former glory with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant. The group will also use the grant to film and tell her story.

• Rescue Wooden Boats’ visitor centre is based at The Old Military Camp, Greenway, Stiffkey, and is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am until 4pm and also on Wednesdays, during school holidays, from 10am until 4pm.

• For more about the charity see www.rescuewoodenboats.com or email info@rescuewoodenboats.com.

• Are you setting up a charity? Email reporter donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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