Monday 23 October 2017

Wexford town's lifeboat named but no relative found of man who paid for it

David Tucker

Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive at Commissioners of Irish Lights, launching the lifeboat
Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive at Commissioners of Irish Lights, launching the lifeboat

A new D class lifeboat for Wexford RNLI was officially named Alfred William Newman during a ceremony at the lifeboat station on the Quays last Saturday, but no relative of the man who gave the boat his name was present.

The lifeboat, which went on service in June, was funded by Alfred William Newman who, through a bequest in his Will, provided the D class lifeboat to enable crews to continue Wexford RNLI's lifesaving service.

The RNLI which has strong links throughout Ireland with the Commissioner of Irish Lights and its Chief Executive Yvonne Shields performed the naming ceremony.

Nick Bowie, from Wexford RNLI said that as the Operations Manager, 'it's a proud and satisfying moment to see the crew get such a capable rescue water craft. As well as celebrating the naming of this lifeboat, this event gave us the chance to say a warm thank you to the donor, Alfred William Newman, whose generous bequest funded the lifeboat.'

Unusually, no relative of the donor Mr Newman, from was from Birmingham, in England, was present at the naming ceremony.

While a relative would normally represent the donor's family, the RNLI said it had tried everything to find one but without success.

'It was a bequest in his will and we know no more than that,' said a spokesperson.

The RNLI formally established a lifeboat station in Wexford in 2002 but its lifeboating history goes back some 77 years prior to that.

The original Wexford Lifeboat Station, located at the Fort at the mouth of Wexford Harbour was opened in 1838. It had two lifeboats on station, one for the offshore waters and a smaller lifeboat for the shallower waters of the harbour. Severe storms decimated the Fort village and its linking causeway in 1925 and the larger lifeboat had to be temporarily stationed at Wexford Quay. She was eventually permanently re-stationed at Rosslare Harbour, leaving the local boating community in Wexford to deal with emergencies within their harbour.

Many years later in 1993, following the tragic drowning of Paddy Busher, a local group was mustered to establish Wexford Harbour Inshore Rescue as a declared maritime emergency resource for Wexford Harbour and their lifeboat was named Paddy Busher. In 2002 this service formally became part of the RNLI.

The D class lifeboat has been the workhouse of the RNLI's lifesaving service for nearly 50 years. It is inflatable but robust; highly manoeuvrable and capable of operating much closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. It is specifically suited to surf, shallow water and confined locations, often close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves.

First introduced to the fleet in 1963, the design of the D class has continued to evolve since its introduction and the latest version was introduced in 2003. As with all D class lifeboats, the Alfred William Newman has a single 50hp outboard engine and can be righted manually by the crew after a capsize. Onboard equipment includes both fitted and hand-held VHF radios, night-vision equipment, and first aid kit, including oxygen. The 5 metre lifeboat is tractor launched and has a 25knot maximum speed. It can carry up to three lifeboat crew and five survivors.

Wexford People

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