RNLI in Wells trying to find family of mystery woman who gave them �300,000 in her will

The search is on to find the family of a mystery woman who has donated a staggering �300,000 through her will for the Wells RNLI lifeboat station.

The woman's name was Olive Talbot, but Peter Rainsford, chairman of the Wells Royal National Lifeboat Institution management group, said the charity had no further information about her.

The charity is making efforts to trace her nearest and dearest.

News of the legacy was announced at the Wells RNLI's annual meeting on Monday night. It was sent to the RNLI's headquarters in Poole, Dorset with instructions for the money to be used at Wells.

Mr Rainsford said: 'This woman is not known to be a long-term supporter of the RNLI and we have made some enquiries in Wells and have not yet found any information about her.

'Occasionally these large mysterious donations come to us. We received a larger legacy than this about 10 years ago from a lady that we'd never heard of down in Surrey.

'It was later discovered that her sweetheart was an American pilot based in Norfolk during the second world war. He went missing at sea near Wells after his plane came down.

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'The lifeboat crew searched for more than 24 hours and were unable to find him. But the woman was so touched by the great efforts the crew made that, years later, she gave this huge donation in her will.'

Mr Rainsford added: 'It will be decided upon in Poole how this money will be spent, but it will be used in Wells.

'The running costs per year at Wells station are between �150,000 and �200,000 per year, so this will make a major impact and we are extremely grateful.'

Meanwhile, despite the recession, Wells RNLI Lifeboat continues to be well supported.

The exact receipts from funding-raising by the lifeboat station and the lifeboat guild for the year were �26,919.87, exactly �5.86 more than last year.

In addition, the lifeboat had also received a number of legacies.

As well as Mrs Talbot's �300,000, a legacy for nearly �33,000 was made by the late Frederick Whitaker, who lived near Wells.

It will be spent on additional improvements to the crew's facilities when the new lifeboat station is built in the next few years.

Mr Rainsford said: 'We are extremely grateful for all the support we get. Occasionally we do receive these gold bars from out of nowhere.

'But if it was not for all of the people out there running coffee mornings, doing charity runs, shaking donation boxes outside supermarkets and increasing public awareness of what we do there would be no gold bars in the first place.'

Meanwhile, the new �1.5m Shannon Class lifeboat is expected to come into service in Wells in the next two to three years.

And at this week's annual meeting lifeboat operations manager, Chris Hardy, paid tribute to two members who were retiring this year; tractor driver, Des Wright, and shore helper, Malcolm Smith.

He said the RNLI at Wells is looking to recruit new younger members to crew the inshore lifeboat where the age limit is 45.

Do you have any information about the mystery donation? Call our reporter Adam Lazzari on 01328 862678, e mail him on adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk or pop into our Fakenham office at 22 Norwich Street.

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