Civil service donations pay for lifeboat honouring Prince Philip

Vessel that will serve north Norfolk coast is bankrolled by The Lifeboat Fund’s 150th anniversary appeal
The first Shannon-class lifeboat, Cosandra 13-12, is lowered into the water at Poole. Duke of Edinburgh will be part of the same class. Photo: Nathan Williams/RNLI

By Jim Dunton

03 Sep 2021

A lifeboat paid for with donations made by civil servants is to be named “Duke of Edinburgh” in honour of Prince Philip, who died in April this year at the age of 99.

The state-of-the-art Shannon class vessel will be based at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, fewer than 10 miles from the royal estate at Sandringham, where Prince Philip spent much of his time after stepping back from his public duties four years ago.

Its cost is being covered by civil service donations to The Lifeboat Fund as part of the charity’s 150th anniversary appeal. The fund said the lifeboat is currently being built at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s all-weather lifeboat centre in Poole and would go into service towards the end of 2022.

RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie said the organisation had hoped to mark Prince Philip’s long service to the nation and support for the maritime sector by naming a lifeboat after him during his 100th birthday year. However the duke died two months before his landmark birthday.

‘We heard that the duke was pleased to learn of the plans to name a lifeboat after him and that it was going to be serving a community so close to Sandringham,” Dowie said.

“Very sadly the duke passed away before his royal highness could see it happen, but we are delighted to pay tribute to his legacy in this way today.”

GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming, who is chair of The Lifeboat Fund, said the charity was delighted to be the principal donor for the new lifeboat at Wells-next-the-Sea.

“It’s the second lifeboat for Wells with a royal association, the first being the Royal Silver Jubilee that was on service at the station from 1936 to 1945,” he said. “This one seems especially fitting.”

The Lifeboat Fund was founded by a group of civil servants who raised money from colleagues to buy a lifeboat in 1866.

Originally known as the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund, the charity has been through a range of name changes to reflect the departure of the Post Office and British Telecom from the public sector.

When the Post Office rebranded itself as Consignia in 2002, the fund changed its name to the Communications and Public Service Lifeboat Fund, or The Lifeboat Fund for short.

The RNLI said that to date, The Lifeboat Fund had raised £26m towards funding its work, including providing 53 new lifeboats, refurbishing stations and boats, buying kit for crews and training volunteers and lifeguards. The fund also supports the RNLI’s international work in Bangladesh.

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