Thousands of people enjoyed an 'epic occasion' as a new state-of-the-art lifeboat arrived on the north Norfolk coast.

Wells RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh arrived in the town on Saturday, October 8, and was greeted by sunshine and cheers.

The Launch a Memory lifeboat arrived at the quay at 5.30pm, carrying with it 15,000 names of loved ones featuring the lifeboat’s letters and numbers - RNLI 13-46 - displayed on the vessel’s hull.

Peter Rainsford, Wells lifeboat chairman, said: "It was absolutely fabulous. The sun was shining. We probably had about 2,000 people on the quay.

"It was an epic occasion."

The new lifeboat was accompanied into the quay by the station’s current lifeboat Doris M.Mann of Ampthill and their D class inshore lifeboat.

They were also joined by the lifeboat station’s previous lifeboat Ernest Tom Neathercoat, which served between 1965 and 1990, and the Lucy Lavers, which served as the station’s relief lifeboat in 1962 and from 1963 to 1964.

To mark the lifeboat’s arrival, Blakeney Old Wild Rovers sang sea shanties.

Mr Rainsford said: "The crew did demonstrations of how fantastically manoeuvrable she is. It was very impressive to see up close."

On Saturday afternoon, the lifeboat, designed and built by the RNLI, made passage from Lowestoft.

For the previous two weeks, the crew had been training on the boat, which is different from the previous vessels.

The Shannon class is the fastest all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI fleet.

It was funded in part through an appeal in the local Wells community and by the Civil Service charity The Lifeboat Fund.

Although the new lifeboat station is not yet open to the public, further information on when there will be opportunities to see the lifeboat will be released in the coming weeks.

Mr Rainsford said: "The ‘Launch a Memory’ campaign, while a fundraiser for the charity, is also a way for us to say thank you to those people who support the lifeboat service and our volunteer lifeboat crews.

"It’s humbling to know that every time our new Shannon class lifeboat launches it will carry the names of 15,000 loved ones.

"We’re incredibly thankful to all those who have helped to make this happen," he added.