Kath Wilson (left) and Lyn Abbott (right) at the new Southport Lifeboat Station

The brand new Southport Lifeboat Station is now opening!

The new station replaces the old lifeboat house next to Southport Pleasureland that was built in 1886 and used by the Southport Offshore Rescue trust since 1988. The crew are all unpaid volunteers who are on call 24/7 and have helped to save the lives of hundreds of people since forming.

The building is the biggest lifeboat base in the North West and has cost £1.4million to build – a huge effort for this life-saving Southport organisation which relies entirely on donations from generous members of the public.

The Trustee Directors of the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust are now pleased to announce that they have begun the process of relocating to their new lifeboat station.

The new facility, which has been paid for entirely by public donations, is the new home for the independent charity which operates the Southport Lifeboat.

After 20 years of fundraising, planning and three and a half years of construction, the new lifeboat station is a manifestation of the tremendous community effort to provide and secure a lifesaving service on the Sefton coastline.

The crew have now begun moving the equipment to new premises, which took over from the old lifeboat house as the charity’s operational base on New Year’s Day.

The building provides essential facilities for our crew and a home for the equipment they use to save lives. ‘I can’t believe how wonderful it looks.’ said Southport Lifeboat founder Kath Wilson. ‘I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am to see it finally open; it brought a tear to my eye.’

Kath founded the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust in 1987 after her son, Geoff Clements, lost his life off the Southport coast whilst fishing with his friends.

In 2005, she started the Southport Lifeboat charity shop in Birkdale which has been raising funds to pay for the new Lifeboat Station ever since.

‘We’ve had some hard times over the past 30 or so years, but we’ve got there. This building is for the people of Southport. It’s for everyone who has donated, bought something in the shop, played LifeboatLotto, volunteered for the charity or helped in any way, shape or form.’

The new Southport Lifeboat Station

The new Southport Lifeboat Station

Alan Porter, Chairman of the board of Trustee Directors at the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust said; ‘We would like to thank the people of Southport, the surrounding areas, and further afield for their support, without whom this fabulous achievement would not be possible.

‘There’s still plenty of work to do in furnishing the inside, but we became operational from the building on New Year’s Day and responded to our first incident from there on the 2nd of January.’ 

Within the station, our crew have access to a range of rooms designed specifically for training and maintenance.

A separate workshop will allow our crew to look after their kit, whilst kitchen, shower and changing room facilities provide much-needed amenities.

The lookout tower on the seaward side of the building offers incredible views of the coast and will act as an operations control room.

‘The old boathouse served us well for three decades. It is full of history and its walls could tell many stories, but sadly, it was outdated, cold, damp and we outgrew it many years ago,’ said Trustee Director John Shawcroft, who was a founding member of the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust.

‘We want this space to be a home for our crew.’

Read More: Southport Lifeboat reveals busiest ever year as they look forward to new station opening

The Southport Lifeboat is run entirely by volunteers. None of the directors, crew, shop staff or fundraisers receive any payment for their work.

In order to ensure that the building was constructed to adhere to design specification and criteria, the board of Trustees gave up many hours of work to attend meetings with contractors, suppliers and local authorities. 

Nicola Goldup, a Trustee Director said; ‘The lifeboat construction team worked closely with Natural England to ensure minimal impact to the physical environment throughout the building and construction phases.

‘The Southport Lifeboat Station was designed to withstand the exposed environment in which it sits. The construction materials were chosen in order to provide maximum longevity to the building while reducing long-term maintenance costs.

Work is continuing on the new Southport Lifeboat Station

Work is continuing on the new Southport Lifeboat Station

‘No longer are vessels kept apart from their launch vehicles, or equipment stored in containers. Our new station provides the space for training, maintenance and the storage of our assets in a safe and dry environment.’

The construction phase of the boathouse became a familiar sight for the people of Southport over the past few months.

The project was set back multiple times due to logistical and planning disputes, in which the voluntary crew invested much time and effort in order to resolve.

Despite the challenges, the lifeboat station is now operationally fit for many years of service.

Keith Porter, Trustee Director and Senior Coxswain of Southport Lifeboat, said; ‘Despite the multitude of challenges that our crew faced during the construction phase of the lifeboat station, our new facility exists only due the hard work and commitment of supporters both internal and external to the organisation.

‘The continuous and tireless work carried out by Kath Wilson, founder of Southport Offshore Rescue Trust, means our crew can operate from a station that is suited to 21st-Century lifesaving.

Southport Lifeboat

Southport Lifeboat

‘What was once an ambitious vision some 20 years ago has now become a reality and I would personally like to thank all those who ensured our vision became a success.’

The volunteers are now in the process of furnishing the inside of the building before it is ready to be opened to the public later in the year at a series of open days.

It costs £60,000 to keep Southport Lifeboat functioning all year round. That is no mean task during ordinary times, let alone the extraordinary times we currently find ourselves in.

Southport Lifeboat is funded entirely through public donations, and is independent of the RNLI.

There are other ways you can help the charity continue to save lives, including joining LifeboatLotto or online donations.

For more details about the emergency service, or if you would like to donate, please visit their website:

http://www.southport-lifeboat.co.uk/

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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