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Opening of Islay’s new lifeboat station

Islay’s new lifeboat station was officially opened and dedicated at a special open air ceremony held in warm sunshine at Port Askaig on Sunday, 29th June. Cutting the ribbon and declaring the facility open was local resident Lily MacDougall. Lily and her family have had a long association with the local RNLI branch and have been active members since the first lifeboat, the ‘Frederick H Pilley’, took up position at Port Askaig in 1934.

The new development, situated adjacent to the CalMac booking office at the island port, cost in excess of £500,000. It was largely financed by donations from the R S MacDonald Charitable Trust and the Hugh Fraser Foundation. Further finance was received from an anonymous donor.

Bruno Schroder, merchant banker, local landowner and provider of the current Islay lifeboat, accepted the new station as the donors’ representative and it was received on behalf of the lifesaving charity by Johnny Bergius, an RNLI Council member. He, in turn, passed responsibility for the shore facility to the local branch and it was accepted by the island lifeboat ’s operations manager Islay MacEachern. Continue reading....

Devotions and the dedication were delivered by parish minister the Rev Valerie Watson, and the local management committee chair Hamish Campbell conducted the proceedings and welcome the 100 plus invited guests.

Islay Lifeboat on a training session in the Sound of Islay

He also praised the generosity of the island community whose largesse ensures that the lifeboat crew can put to sea when calls for help come safe in the knowledge that the best possible kit and training are already in place.

The toast to the new station and the vote of thanks were proposed by Hugh Smith, press officer for the Port Askaig lifeboat.

Following the ceremony, awards were made to a number of volunteers whose efforts on the charity’s behalf were deemed highly praiseworthy.

Former crew members Terry Ferguson and Roger Eaton received RNLI citations, fund raisers Judy Ross and Margaret Campbell were presented with letters of thanks and the fund raising group’s head Margaret Hastie received the RNLI silver badge in recognition of her sterling efforts in adding to the lifeboat finances.

The RNLI’s gold badge, marking 30 years service, went to 2nd Coxswain Neil MacEachern marking his dedication and his commitment to the local lifeboat.

Following the ceremony an RNLI spokesman said, ‘This island community is justifiably proud of its lifeboat and volunteers and, as another chapter in its history begins with the opening of this new station, that pride will remain undiminished’.

Article published with kind permission of the Ileach. Image of Lily and Neil by Islay Studios

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