I’m so sorry that it’s taken me such a long time to update my blog but it’s been another busy year at Penlee. Whilst I’m more than happy to take the helm of the ‘Ivan Ellen’ lifeboat, I am not so good at tapping away on a computer! Please accept my apologies.
I am writing this 2015 update from my office at Penlee Lifeboat Station, looking out over Newlyn Harbour at the Ivan Ellen and Paul Alexander lifeboats who both lay peacefully on their moorings ready for our next service. I consider myself extremely lucky to work and live in such a beautiful part of the country, with such a dedicated and loyal team of volunteers around me – long may it continue!
So, what have we been up to this year?
January 27th saw the launch of our fundraising appeal to build a new lifeboat station at Penlee, by England and Exeter Chiefs rugby player, Jack Nowell.
Our current station was built in 1983, but unfortunately, now 32 years on, the station is no longer fit for purpose. With around 25 volunteer crew, and additional shore crew as well as fundraisers
using the building, there is an urgent need for more space. It can get quite claustrophobic, and at the moment everyone at the station is competing to use the single crew room for everything from training and meetings to having an important debrief after a rescue. Our new station will provide that much needed space and we are all extremely excited that the dream of a new building is now becoming a reality.
The Penlee appeal fund has now reached over £107,000 - fingers crossed the building works are expected to begin next year, and subject to planning permission, will take about six months to complete. We will keep you posted on progress via our website and social media pages. Facebook or Twitter
There are so many people to mention for the staggering amount of money that has already been raised towards our appeal. Joe Holtaway and his family & friends who raised over £3,000 at the ‘Big Thank You’ band night in May are just one of many. You will all remember Joe as the paddle-boarder we rescued from near death in November 2014.
Click here for the local TV news report of Joe's rescue
I would just like to say a big thank you to every single one of you who have contributed to our fundraising pot. The support we have received, not only locally, but countrywide and from the four corners of the earth has been astounding and extremely humbling
THANK YOU ONE & ALL.
For those of you who follow our Facebook page you will remember the Jewson Building Better Communities ‘Vote for Penlee’ campaign that took place in May & June this year. It was a tense few weeks with the lead project changing on a daily basis! In the end all your votes helped us to secure the top prize of £50,000 that was collected by our volunteer Press Officer, Elaine Trethowan, and volunteer crewmember, Marcel Le Bretton on the 8th July. We continue to work with the Jewson team who are giving us invaluable support and advice with our new build. You may like to view the following video which was filmed on 4th November and gives details of the proposed plans for the new station. click here to view
There have been endless fundraising events for the our fundraising appeal throughout this year, including the St Ives RNLI Cycle Sportive event. Four cyclists from Penlee Lifeboat Station took part this year - Mechanic Tony Rendle, Inshore Lifeboat Helmsman Ben Keogh, Crewman Paul Boulton and myself. Sixty cyclists registered for the event but on the morning due to the torrential rain only 36 riders took part. The 50 mile route was hard graft in the strong wind and heavy rain but it was still a nice ride. Together we raised £3,100 - a fantastic amount!
The RNLI v Fire Brigade Rugby match was another resounding success both in terms of fundraising and the result. £2,150 was collected and the RNLI won again!! It was another very close game, the standard of rugby was impressive with both sides very committed and played in good spirits. Even though I said after last years match I wasn’t going to play this year I couldn’t help myself and I played for a full 60 minutes. Adrian Bick, my old Pirates team mate, couldn’t resist either. During the 2nd half we were joined by Penlee crewmembers, Paul Boulton and Marcel Le Breton. Once again the support was fantastic - after the match the Pirates club house was full to bursting point and a good night was had by all!
This year for the first time the RNLI organized a sponsored swim from Marazion beach around St Michael's Mount and back. Both Penlee Lifeboats attended to provide safety cover with Penlee’s Lifeboat Medical Advisor, Dr Boulter, onboard the Ivan Ellen. RNLI lifeguards also attended the swim using their paddle boards, jetski and surf boat in case any swimmer needed assistance. 60 swimmers took part and raised over £6,000. Again a fantastic result - we are hoping this will now become an annual event in our fundraising calendar.
Both of our Lifeboats have had another busy year and between them have launched many times on service, saving lives and assisting people. The most noticeable "shouts" this year have been:
In May - a 9 hour service to the beam trawler, Kerrie Marie, which had suffered engine failure 35 miles south of Newlyn.
In July - The 'Paul Alexander' was at sea within 4 minutes to the aid of two kayakers off Penlee Point. Falmouth Coastguard had received a 999 call from a member of public who was concerned for their safety.
And finally in December - On the anniversary of the disaster a very bumpy service to assist the tug 'MTS Viscount' and the 7,800 ton container ship 'Samskip Express' which had suffered engine failure and was dragging her anchor in a strong Southerly gale - Force 8 just two miles off Porthleven.
The 'Ivan Ellen' has been the busier boat this year, launching on several occasions to assist fishing/angling vessels, yachts and other leisure craft. We also took part in a number of searches for vulnerable missing persons and small leisure craft.
Amazingly both lifeboats have launched an incredible 165 times this year, this includes services, exercises, Public Relations, events and displays.
The Station welcomed Martin Brockman as our 'Lifeboat Visits Officer'. Martin visits schools and other community groups and gives talks on staying safe and our station history. Martin has visited over 20 schools, given over 25 talks and we have welcomed 18 Schools and many other groups to the station. These include the Brownies, Sea Scouts/Cadets, appeal supporters and visitors from other lifeboat stations.
In June we were pleased to welcome 3 crew members who are based at the Moelfre RNLI lifeboat station on Anglesey.
In September 6 members of the Estonian Voluntary Maritime Rescue Unit of Toila, and Jack Lowe from The Lifeboat Station Project. Click here for Jack's Tribute to Penlee
In November, whilst on passage to Poole, Coxswain Kevin Kirkpatrick and members of the volunteer crew of the RNLI Longhope Lifeboat 'Helen Corrie' visited the old Lifeboat Station at Penlee Point, Mousehole, to lay flowers and pay their respects to the crew of the Solomon Browne lifeboat.
Once again I would like to thank my volunteer crew for their continued hard work, dedication and loyalty. It has been a very busy year but brilliant as well, the crew have been fantastic and once again nothing is ever to much trouble. Not only do they commit to saving lives at sea but also take part and help with fundraising and they are a credit to the community and the RNLI.
Penlee currently has 24 crew on the books with 3 new crew joining this year. Chris Yacoubian, Andrew Stevens and Neville Pittman.
Chris a TV film camera man who has been all over the world filming programs such as Gold Rush, The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and countless others. Chris lives in Mousehole.
Andrew is an experienced fisherman originally from St Ives, but we can't hold that against him. Andrew is also an ex Lifeboat man and lives in Penzance.
Neville an ex fisherman and skipper. He runs a Shellfish business locally and lives in Newlyn.
Porthleven Lifeboat Day 2015 – This year marked the 40th Lifeboat Day at Porthleven. It is a very important date in the Penlee diary and this year was no exception. Steaming into Porthleven on the flying bridge of the ‘Ivan Ellen’ I was amazed to see how many people were lining the harbour walls, cheering, clapping and welcoming us into port. All the crew love Porthleven Lifeboat Day and are always happy to make the trip across the bay on the Ivan Ellen & Paul Alexander lifeboats.
Sadly, due to the poor weather conditions, our colleagues from 771 Naval Air Squadron were not able to join us for the planned rescue demonstration. Hopefully our casualty rescue demonstration in the outer harbour was some compensation for those who had waited patiently to see us.
I would like to say a big thank you to Porthleven & District RNLI, to everyone who supported the event, to the businesses in Porthleven and beyond who provided raffle & auction prizes, to all the other lifeboat branches who attended and collected on the day, and to all the amazing RNLI volunteers who gave up their time & energy to make Porthleven Lifeboat Day such a huge success – in their 20th anniversary year they have raised a staggering £10,700 towards our new station appeal!
We all look forward to doing it all again next year on Sunday 14th August – hope to see you all there!
As we steam towards Christmas and the December days disappear in our wake, the crew and I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas & New Year. See you all in 2016.