Sea Palling independent lifeboat celebrates 40 years of service

Audrey Skipper (centre ) former landlady of The Hall Inn, who helped found Sea Palling's first indep

Audrey Skipper (centre ) former landlady of The Hall Inn, who helped found Sea Palling's first independent lifeboat, is pictured with crew and coastguard members. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

Four decades of saving lives off the north Norfolk coast were celebrated at a special ceremony in Sea Palling on bank holiday Monday.

Barry Clarke, one of the founders of the Sea Palling lifeboat, is pictured with his grandson Jack Cl

Barry Clarke, one of the founders of the Sea Palling lifeboat, is pictured with his grandson Jack Clarke, one of the lifeboat's current crew. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

The village's independent lifeboat, funded entirely through local efforts, marked its ruby anniversary with a blessing and gathering of crew and other supporters from the past 40 years.

They included one of its founders, Sea Palling resident Barry Clarke, whose sons Dickie and Jason followed him as crew members. And now Dickie's son Jack, 16, has joined the lifeboat crew too.

Coxswain Paul Dale said rain had badly affected fund-raising activities on the day, with just over £1,000 collected.

The blessing ceremony was carried out by Sea Palling lifeboat chaplain, the Rev Catherine Dobson, who is rector of the Coastal Group of parishes.

The Rev Catherine Dobson blesses Sea Palling lifeboat with coxswain Paul Dale (right), crew and coa

The Rev Catherine Dobson blesses Sea Palling lifeboat with coxswain Paul Dale (right), crew and coastguard members. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant


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Among guests was Audrey Skipper, 78, from Mundesley, one of the founder fund-raisers for the lifeboat with her husband, Alan.

They ran the village's Old Hall Inn at the time, which became the project's headquarters.

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Sea Palling had a lifeboat in the 19th century which was taken over by the RNLI in 1876, according to Mr Dale.

But the service was closed in 1930 and the village was without its own lifeboat in 1972 when two girls nearly drowned while swimming off Sea Palling.

They were rescued by a fisherman and the incident sparked a movement to re-establish a lifeboat service in the community. The RNLI felt that the area was adequately covered and so villagers decided to go it alone, founding the Palling Volunteer Rescue Service (PVRS), raising £20,000, building a lifeboat station and buying a boat.

Nowadays it cost £20,000 a year to run the service, according to Mr Dale.

Supporters had hoped to raise £40,000 in their 40th year but so far only about £23,000 had been raised.

He appealed for more donations, and for more local male and female volunteers, aged 16 upwards, to train as crew and join the current 15 who made sure the service operated around the clock.

'At the minute we're the busiest lifeboat on the Norfolk coast. We've had 13 call-outs so far this year,' said Mr Dale.

In March the crew had saved three lives after the fishing boat Ruby Blue developed engine failure and began taking in water. But the rescue had damaged the lifeboat's engine which had to be replaced, at a cost of £8,000.

? For more information visit www.pallingrescue.co.uk

? Do you have memories of the service? Write to nnn.letters@archant.co.uk or NNN Letters, 31 Church Street, Cromer, NR27 9ES.

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