Former lifeboat Lucy Lavers blessed ahead of journey from Stiffkey to Dunkirk
- Credit: Matthew usher
On a wing and a prayer this lucky little boat made it Dunkirk as part of one of the most daring rescues in history.
Now former lifeboat Lucy Lavers has been blessed ahead of a return trip to France at a special prelaunch ceremony in Stiffkey.
Lovingly restored to her former glory by charity Rescue Wooden Boats (RWB) the vessel is almost ready to make an historic journey as part of the Dunkirk evacuation 75th anniversary celebrations.
RWB trustee Wendy Pritchard said: 'It is very exciting to see her complete and looking so beautiful and we are just looking forward to seeing her afloat which is where boats should be.
'It has taken a huge amount of work and a huge amount of fundraising as you can see.'
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Among those invited to attend the ceremony were David Cox, who was coxswain at Wells when the boat served as a relief craft, and Hugh Lavers, whose great-grandfather donated the boat named for his wife to the RNLI.
Television and radio presenter Anneka Rice was on hand to add some showbiz glamour to the proceedings.
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She said: 'I have been involved as a loyal supporter of Rescue Wooden Boats for some time and I have seen this project grow and grow.
'The idea of rescuing Lucy Lavers and restoring her so painstakingly and beautifully is really touching.
'Seeing in the crowd today some old faces like David Cox, who was the coxswain and is now in his 80s, lets you see the great history of this boat.'
As part of the ceremony the Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, said a prayer for Lucy Lavers past and future crews.
He said: 'It is always a huge privilege to be invited to be part of events like this.
'You can see she is not a large boat and the thought of this little boat struggling through difficult seas saving 44 lives and taking part on that amazing occasion in Dunkirk 75 years ago it is quite incredible.
'It is a real David and Goliath experience.'
Although enough money has been raised to get Lucy to Dunkirk the charity is still looking to collect more to ensure she can make it back to Norfolk where she belongs.
Mr Cox, who was coxswain at Wells between 1960 and 1986, said: 'She is beautiful, they have done a marvellous job.
'It takes you back. They were all open boats then. When we went to sea we never had radar or anything like that. You didn't get wireless if you were too far out to sea. You just had a watch and a compass and that got us back with no problem.'
For more information on the charity or to get involved in the Dunkirk trip visit http://www.rescuewoodenboats.com/ or call 07920760238.