For more than 180 years the lifeboat volunteers at Rye Harbour have been helping to keep the waters safe off the south-east coast of England.
Since the station was established in 1803 its courageous crew members have been awarded with no fewer than nine medals for gallantry: three gold and six silver.
Rye Harbour has a remarkable lifesaving story filled with both courage and loss. In 1928 the station suffered the worst lifeboat disaster in RNLI history when 17 volunteers tragically lost their lives attempting to rescue the crew of the vessel “Alice” of Riga during a south-west gale in Rye Bay. Their legacy lives on and new examples of bravery continue to be shown at the station year after year.
“The Atlantic 85 [the current class of boat at Rye Harbour – ed.] is a very good lifeboat and ideal for the types of rescue we carry out here,” says Richard Tollett, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rye Harbour. “Our station is right in the middle of a bay and we launch straight into the River Rother, which has only around three and a half hours of high water each day, but we can still launch in less than a foot of water in the Atlantic 85. We couldn’t do that in any other RNLI lifeboat class.”
The Atlantic 85 is well equipped and the radar and track plotter proved invaluable during a number of major searches along the coastline, from Camber Sands to Dungeness, in 2016.
In 2010 the Rye Harbour crew took delivery of their Atlantic 85, “Hello Herbi”, thanks to a generous bequest made by Mrs Peggy Joan Staveley. In the following five years she was launched 111 times, rescued 108 people and spent more than 2,800 hours a sea on rescue and training exercises.
Just after 1am on May 8, 2015, following reports of a person calling for help in the River Rother, as the lifeboat powered towards the scene, Hello Herbie collided with an unlit, partially submerged object in the water, which caused irreparable damage to the lifeboat and injured three of the four crew members on board. Thankfully, the crew members are now doing well and two of them have been able to return to duty. The third is hoping to return once he has made a full recovery. Since then the station has continued to operate using relief lifeboats.
A new Atlantic 85 lifeboat costs £214,000 and we urgently need your support to raise £64,000 towards the cost for the volunteers at Rye Harbour lifeboat station. Your generosity will enable our volunteers to protect families around the south-east coast for many years to come.
The Rye Harbour lifeboat crew are here to help make the sea a safer place for everyone to enjoy, and with your support they always will be.
If you would like to make a donation please visit justgiving.com and search for Rye Harbour Lifeboat Appeal, or Text RHLB85 £10 to 70070.
Photo: Steve Griffin