Weston RNLI launches fundraising appeal

PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 June 2013

Weston RNLI's boathouse.

Weston RNLI's boathouse.

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WESTON'S RNLI station could move to a new base as it weighs up its options for ways to improve its current facilities.

The RNLI has launched The Bristol Channel RNLI fundraising appeal, which will collect money to upgrade the facilities in Weston, as well as build a new lifeboat station in Portishead.

The life-saving charity is currently based on Birnbeck Pier, but access points the crews use to get to their boats are in poor condition and the boathouse facilities do not measure up to modern standards.

The lifeboats are also currently protected by a temporary ‘tent’.

Peter Elmont, chair of Weston RNLI’s fundraising, said: “At this stage we do not know exactly what we will be doing to improve our facilities and at present we have several feasibility studies under way with all possible options being considered.

“However we need to start raising money now so we will have the funds ready for when the decisions have been made and the work can begin.

“It’s not possible to say at this stage how much will be needed but it likely to be many hundreds of thousands of pounds by the time the work is completed.”

The next fundraising event is a raft race on Marine Lake on July 27, and a week of activities and fundraisers will take place from August 10-16 during Lifeboat Week.

Weston RNLI spokesman Glyn Hayes said: “We are still using Birnbeck but expecting if nothing is done it will deteriorate and become unusable sometime in the future.

“We have to do something. And the options are to find a way of improving the safety of the pier and facilities at Birnbeck, which in one sense is the preferred option because it’s the best place for us in terms of launching with the tide and so on. But it may become unworkable.

“First of all we will see what we can do with the current facilities. We will look to see whether or not there’s an alternative. But we also have to look at what happens if the pier suddenly becomes unusable.”

Mr Hayes said the RNLI has moved to a temporary site before, launching from Uphill, and could do this again while they are looking for another site.

He said: “What we want to do is make sure we have a plan which gives us the facilities we need to continue launching.

“We are going to keep a lifeboat station in Weston and whatever happens it is going to cost money and so we need to start fundraising now.”

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