A inshore D class lifeboat for Courtown RNLI is to be officially named Frank during a ceremony at the lifeboat station at 3pm today.
The lifeboat which went on service in January 2020 is funded by the late Frank Watkin, and his wife Kathleen, who together shared a love for the sea and sailing in particular.
Frank and Kathleen were married in Bishopstoke in England after Frank’s work took him from the Ford Motor Company office in Essex to the Ford Transit manufacturing factory in Southampton. He soon decided he preferred Hampshire to Essex and when the couple were married, they bought a yacht which was kept in Chichester Harbour where they spent many happy and exciting ventures both around the harbour and into the Solent.
After Frank died and with no immediate known relatives, Kathleen had a decision to make with what she wanted to do with her inheritance. With a passion for the sea and sailing, she visited the RNLI Support Centre in Poole and after what she described as an educational and exciting trip, she was captivated and decided she wanted at that point to put some funds into the charity that saves lives at sea rather than wait until she passed away.
At the same time, the next lifeboat being built was waiting for funds and was partially constructed at the RNLI boatyard in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It was arranged for Kathleen to visit and see the lifeboat she would later name Frank, in the final stages of its construction. She was joined by good friends Martin and Liz Bandey who Frank and she met via their local Rotary Club and with whom the couple had enjoyed their love for the sea.
Talking about that trip and the lifeboat’s subsequent arrival in Courtown, Kathleen said: ‘It was very interesting and one of the best things I had done in years, and I am glad she (Frank) has arrived safely in Ireland. I have a love for Ireland – I used to work for Aer Lingus many, many years ago.’
Unfortunately, Kathleen is unable to attend today’s event in Courtown, but her wish to have a lifeboat named after her husband Frank will be granted. She will be represented at the ceremony by the couple’s good friends Martin and Liz.
The D class Frank replaces the Caird Au Chuain which served Courtown RNLI for over 10 years. During that time, the lifeboat launched 50 times bringing 61 people to safety, four of whom were lives saved.
Speaking ahead of the naming ceremony, Sam Kennedy, Courtown RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘This is a very special occasion for our station, and we are most grateful to Kathleen and her late husband for this generous gift in his memory which has funded this lifeboat, Frank.
‘Frank and Kathleen had a love for the sea and sailing and while she can’t be here today, it is important to us to know that Kathleen was able to see the lifeboat before she arrived here at her new home in Courtown.’
The D class inshore lifeboat has been the workhouse of the RNLI for over 50 years.
First introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963, the design of the inflatable D class continues to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology.
The lifeboat is highly maneuverable and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. It comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations – often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.
A lifeboat station was originally established in Courtown in 1865 when a station was opened at the request of local residents and a boathouse was constructed at a cost of £200. A new Peake class lifeboat Alfred and Ernest which was built in 1852, was placed on service. The station was closed in 1925 before the RNLI established an inshore lifeboat station in 1990 with the placing of a D class lifeboat for evaluation purposes. The old boathouse was later repurchased and a new D class lifeboat was placed on service the following year.
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