Caister lifeboatmen all set for fete fundraiser

Caister Lifeboat called The Bernard Matthews II and the new inshore lifeboat doing a demonstration a

Caister Lifeboat called The Bernard Matthews II and the new inshore lifeboat doing a demonstration at the annual Caister Lifeboat fete.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

Lifeboatmen staging a fun day in Caister on Sunday have already spent the thousands they hope to raise dealing with an emergency of their own.

Three holidays and mini-breaks are the top prizes at this year's Caister Lifeboat fete, as well as a trip on Britain's fastest lifeboat.

Raffle prizes are still being collected for the independent lifeboat station's biggest fund-raiser of the year with a good turn out needed to guarantee a healthy profit.

A giant inflatable slide, archery and crockery-smashing are among the main attractions - as well as a model boat display and competition to see who's the fastest to get into lifeboat waterproofs.

Live music by Hank Bemarvin will keep the crowds entertained, and a fully-licenced bar will serve refreshments and food including burgers, hot-dogs, chips and fried herring.

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The fun-packed day at Tan Lane starts at 10am and draws hundreds of people - who help raise thousands of pounds.

And lifeboat chairman Paul Garrod said they've already spend the money they're hoping to raise this year.

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'A few weeks ago we discovered flints on the beach have caused serious damage to the tracks for our big lifeboat tractor,' he said.

'It's going to cost us £9,400 to get them replaced - last year our fete raised £9,600 - so if we hit our target we'll be able to pay the bill.'

Coxswain Paul Williams said if the damaged tracks broke up while launching the boat it could put the crew and equipment at risk.

'If one of the tracks had split it would have meant we couldn't drive on the beach. It would have been stuck,' he said.

'While it didn't affect our ability to launch, it meant we were really careful when on a crew training exercises because if it had gone we wouldn't have been able to launch in an emergency.'

The repair work was carried out on Thursday and the old damaged tracks will be on display.

Mr Garrod added: 'We want to show people how expensive it is to keep the lifeboats in service.

'It's been an expensive year. Since last year's fete we've spent £90,000 on a new inshore boat, tractor and trailer and the refit of the Bernard Matthews II has cost us £100,000.'

To help raise money many local businesses have donated prizes, including Richardson's offering a Norfolk Broads boating holiday, a mini-break at the Haven Holiday Park in Caister and a weekend stay at the boutique Satis House Hotel in Yoxford in Suffolk.

Hundreds of cuddly toys have been donated by seafront traders, family meals at restaurants and tickets to many events and shows are on offer too. Another raffle offers a trip for two on the lifeboat display exercise which takes place after 3pm on Sunday.

'We've been very well supported by local businesses, with many giving us some spectacular prizes,' Mr Garrod said.

'With such good prizes on offer it means we stand a good chance of raising more money - which will help us save lives off the east Norfolk coast.'

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