Key exchanged on Weston RNLI's new base
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:26 28 November 2018
Progress to secure a permanent base for Weston’s RNLI has been made after volunteers were handed the keys to The Cove.
Weston RNLI was presented with the keys to The Cove Restaurant, by Marine Lake, from its owner Heath Hardy on November 21.
The charity hopes to make positive steps towards finally securing a full-time, permanent station after it was forced to abandon its previous base on Birnbeck Island in 2013.
Weston RNLI took up residence by Knightstone Plaza in two shipping containers and investigated 14 possible sites for a new station in Weston Bay.
But Heath, who is a long-time supporter of the RNLI, has sold the lease to the site with North Somerset Council to the RNLI and the contracts were exchanged last week.
But the charity will need to now carry out environmental studies and architectural plans, which will take around a year to complete, before knowing if The Cove can be its permanent home.
Studies will consider where to put a slipway from the edge of Marine Lake to the seabed, which is necessary for the crew to be able to launch the larger lifeboat when the tide is out.
Lifeboat operations manager, Mike Buckland, said: “The building will give us significant training and meeting facilities where we can now get all our crew into one room at the same time, something we have been missing for the past five years.”
Fundraisers have worked tirelessly and have so far collected £750,000 towards the cost of a new station.
They surpassed their initial £300,000 target back in 2015 but more cash was needed to fund the new base.
Birnbeck Island was previously the perfect place for the station due to its access to deep water and shelter but the RNLI was forced to leave when the state of the pier, which attached the island to the main land, was thought to be too unstable and dangerous.
Don Sutherland, chairman of the Weston RNLI Lifeboat management group, said: “I wish to pay homage to the outstanding fortitude shown by our lifeboat crews in the 15 years I have been involved.
“Despite the conditions they have had to work under, they have displayed exceptional service to the town and its visitors.”