Sidmouth Lifeboat needs �1,000-a-week to stay afloat

Crew reveal costs in bid to land new volunteers.

SIDMOUTH’S independent lifeboat service must raise �1,000-a-week to stay afloat in tough economic times.

Driving forces behind the valued town asset, run entirely by volunteers and funded by private support, have revealed what it costs to keep it running as they hope to land new fundraising recruits to join a dedicated support team.

It is estimated Sidmouth Lifeboat needs between �30,000 and �40,000 a year to stay in action.

Maintenance and running costs of the boat are the service’s biggest expense, as its engines can use up to 15 gallons of fuel in 60 minutes at full throttle - costing around �90 per hour.

Replacement costs of the lifeboat and its launch unit come in at around �250,000 every 10 years.

An external training course needed to train a helmsman alone costs an average of �1,000, while the bill for kit for each crew member is also around �1,000.

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“In these difficult economic times, we’ve seen a rise in these costs and a drop in our donations,” Sidmouth Lifeboat’s Mark Roden told the Herald.

“We’ve got to raise around �1,000 per week to remain afloat - and this has become more difficult in times of austerity.

“We need more donations to ensure this very necessary service is maintained at Sidmouth.”

A dedicated support team keeps the boat house, and its shop, open all year round and revenue and donations pay for crew training and equipment.

Recent Sidmouth Lifeboat callouts have included rescuing celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and his ten-year-old son, when their fishing boat was stranded on rocks, coming to the aid of a 29ft yacht in difficulty, a night-time search following a report of red flares out to sea, and dinghies being blown offshore.

The fully independent, non-RNLI, lifeboat service, is able to deal with such emergency situations, thanks to the support of the local community and an extensive training programme, added Mr Roden.

The lifeboat team is on the lookout for volunteers willing to help with vital fund-raising activities at all levels. Anyone interested can contact Richard Thurlow on (01395) 513171.