Sidmouth Lifeboat station extension offers more training space

THE FINISHING touches are being made to a �90,000 extension to Sidmouth Lifeboat Boathouse.

THE FINISHING touches are being made to a �90,000 extension to Sidmouth Lifeboat Boathouse.

Trustees are planning a grand opening in July and have invited the charity's patron, radio and TV presenter Judi Spiers, to cut the ribbon.

In January Judi laid a brick at the start of the two-storey project, and the Reverend Peter Leverton blessed the site.

Trustee John Fowler, a retired veterinary surgeon and one of the independent lifeboat's tractor drivers, is delighted with the extra facilities offered by the extension.

"The boathouse used to just house the lifeboat and had one tiny area to serve for everything else; loos, meeting room and kitchen," he said.

"It was decided we needed better premises. The problem was we could never do any indoor training unless we took the lifeboat out and parked it in the street.

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"Now we have extended the whole length of the boathouse upstairs to 12' by 30', which has made it four times bigger, and will be used for crew training."

It also links to the existing lookout and radio area to contact the coastguard.

Already in use is the extended visitor viewing platform, which now runs to the end of the building, giving people a better view of The Pride of Sidmouth.

More room has been created for the renovated souvenir shop, run by volunteers, and there is a crew wet room for showering and storing their dry suits.

Trustee Oliver Bagwell said trustees agreed to go ahead with the boathouse extension, even though the Port Royal area could be re-developed in the future, to ensure it offered a top notch rescue service.

"The crew have pretty good standards and had good reports from training college at Poole," he said.

"Training is good and now we have the facilities to make training even better."

Mr Fowler added: "Sidmouth's independent lifeboat is there for the people of Sidmouth and others using the sea, and needs financial support from local people and new crew members."