Very special guest visits RNLI

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It was with real pleasure that on Sunday, August 12 volunteer staff and crew at the station welcomed Sheila Piggott and her friend Rita to join them during a training session and to inspect the inshore lifeboat Hello Herbie II.

Sheila Piggott with lifeboat crew members Sharon Gozna and Tony Peters

This Atlantic 85 craft, one of the fastest of the RNLI fleet, was acquired for Rye Harbour thanks to the generosity of Sheila and her late husband David. She explained that he was a man with the sea in his veins. Before the Second World War he had wanted to be a naval architect but the national emergency caused him to join the Royal Navy, where his duties saw him serve in the Arctic convoys, and later in motor torpedo boats. His distinguished service was recognised not only by Great Britain but by the presentation to him of a medal by the Russian government at their London embassy; and he made the trip to Moscow for the 50th anniversary of the Arctic convoys.

He always said, apparently, that if he won the lottery he would use the winnings to fund a lifeboat. When he fell seriously ill and was taken into a nursing home for what turned out to be his final two years, Sheila had the inspiration to contact the RNLI about supporting the acquisition of a lifeboat. Crew members from Rye Harbour visited him at the home and in due course the station was proud to take delivery of the splendid rescue craft in use today which does so much to help save lives at sea.

As may be imagined, Sheila is dear to the hearts of all at Rye Harbour lifeboat station. It is worth remembering that without charitable donations, large and small, there would be no RNLI. Commenting on the visit she said: “It’s uplifting. I have visited a number of times now and on each occasion I have been struck by the camaraderie displayed by everyone, which is exceptional.”

Photo: KT Bruce

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