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Sidmouth couple’s legacy to protect sea-farers

06:00 17 May 2014

Exmouth RNLI

Exmouth RNLI's brand new Shannon class lifeboat the R and J Welburn which has had substantial funding from a Sidmouth resident arrived at the Exmouth station on Friday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1820-20-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on Photo Orders


The legacy of a sea-faring Sidmouth couple will help keep East Devon’s shoreline extra safe with the arrival of a state-of-the-art lifeboat.

The Shannon class jet-propelled vessel is the first of its kind in the South West – and Exmouth RNLI is the second station in the whole of the UK and Ireland to receive one.

The boat’s £2million price-tag was met by a legacy left by Sidmouth resident Joan Welburn, who died in 2009.

She requested the capital from her estate was used for the provision of a lifeboat, named the R and J Welburn, as a memorial to her late husband Raymond, who was related to Captain Michael Hansley Welburn, master of the lifeboat at Spurn Point. John Broxup, a close friend of Mrs Welburn, said he is delighted the legacy can be invested into the charity’s new generation of all-weather lifeboats locally.

“Joan would have been extremely proud,” he added.

“It was very important to Joan that her husband’s family would be remembered and the RNLI would benefit in this way.”

Cheering crowds lined the shore as it arrived in Exmouth last week.

Steve Hockings-Thompson, the Exmouth coxswain, gave them a taste of what the new vessel could do - performing a number of movements on the water to demonstrate the agile manoeuvrability of the Shannon in shallow water.

The new generation lifeboat is significantly faster than the Mersey and Tyne-classes it will replace, ensuring those in need are reached even more quickly than before.

Steve said: “Our sincere thanks go to the late Joan Welburn for her generosity in providing us with the next state-of-the-art Shannon.

“It is most fitting that a memorial to her late husband, a relative of a courageous, selfless man who gave his life to save others, will equip our volunteer crew with our new lifeboat. This is will bring life-saving at sea at Exmouth RNLI into the 21st century.”

Exmouth RNLI last week announced the success of an 18-month appeal to raise £150,000 towards the £1million cost of Shannon’s launch and recovery equipment. It will serve off the coasts of Exmouth, Sidmouth, Beer and beyond.


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