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June 29 2016.

The Newhaven Lifeboat Summer Fete takes place this Saturday, the 2nd of July, at Huggetts Green on the West Quay, Riverside, Newhaven from 12noon to 4.00pm, with an eclectic array of stalls and displays for the enjoyment of all the family.

Just 200 metres from Huggetts Green, the Lifeboat House will also be open on Fete Day. It is an ideal opportunity for the local community to learn about the RNLI Respect the Water campaign, by being made aware of the dangers of the local waters whilst being encouraged to safely enjoy its pleasures.

The lifeboat weekend continues on Sunday the 3rd of July with an on-water display at Seaford Bay, Seaford Beach from approximately 10.30am, when, subject to operational requirements, the Newhaven Lifeboat will be joined by the Coastguard Helicopter. Live commentary will be provided from the beach in order for everyone to fully appreciate the on-water duties undertaken by the volunteer lifeboat crew. Although free to watch, all donations made on the day will be welcomed to raise vital funds in aid of RNLI Newhaven.

The history of fundraising began in the year 1800, after H.M.S Brazen was wrecked in a storm off the cliffs just west of Newhaven with the loss of all but one of her 105 crew. This tragedy apparently inspired a local committee to look into the provision of a lifeboat at Newhaven. As a result, in May 1803, Newhaven Lifeboat Station was first established, making it one of the longest-serving stations in the country. In 1803 a lifeboat of William Greathead’s "Original" design was provided, partly paid for by Lloyds of London, with the balance being funded locally. The tradition of local fundraising for the lifeboat continues to this day and the station has seen significant changes during its 213 year history.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) itself was officially formed in 1824, some 21 years later, and records show that the first lifeboat actually built for the RNLI after its’ formation was, in fact, sent to Newhaven in January 1825. Later, in 1904, the first RNLI lifeboat to be fitted with a petrol engine was also sent for trials at Newhaven.

Fast forward 191 years and this pioneering history continues with Newhaven again being chosen to trial new equipment for the RNLI. On this occasion, the equipment is a new technical paging system for the volunteer lifeboat crew; RCAMS. In addition to the current use of pagers, the crew will be able to respond to a shout via their mobile phones, confirming their status and availability. A large television type screen at the Lifeboat House will detail an overview of the emergency, detail the mission and execute a plan of action. The Coastguard information will be relayed prior to the lifeboat launch and collated in one area. This vital equipment will assist by saving valuable time, thereby further helping to save lives at sea.

As before, the initial cost of the new equipment will be met by local fundraising efforts. RNLI Newhaven is proud to be one of Newhaven Mayor Steve Saunders' chosen charities and monies raised by him, together with monies raised throughout the year by Vivianne Petts from bric-a-brac sales in Peacehaven, is likely to see the equipment installed later this year.

Further recognition of the hard work dedicated to fundraising is this year also coming from Seaford Mayor Lindsay Freeman. Cllr. Freeman has chosen RNLI Newhaven as one of her nominated charities for the Mayoral year, demonstrating the whole district’s continuing high regard for their local lifeboat and volunteer crew.