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Whitstable Lifeboat Carriage

Amy Constance Lewis

Whitstable’s Atlantic 85 Lifeboat is named Lewisco and has been funded through a bequest from Mrs Constance Amy Lewis who lived in London and passed away in 2006 and whose family were keen windsurfers who spent many weekends in Whitstable. Mr Colin Wright a nephew of Mrs Lewis formally handed over the lifeboat to the RNLI RNLI at a naming ceremony in October 2014. Mr Wright said ‘Auntie Constance and her family have always liked boats and she would have been very proud of the boat purchased from her bequest to the RNLI. It gets its name from the nickname that members of her family applied to themselves Lewis Company or Lewisco.

Ronald Austin Whittingham:

Also present at the October 2014 ceremony was Mr Ray Austin and his wife whose cousin Ronald Austin Whittingham had made a bequest which has funded the lifeboat launching trailer. Mr Austin said “My cousin Ronald passed away in July 2009 and in his later years lived in Nairobi, Kenya but he remembered the RNLI in his will and from his bequest the institution has funded several projects including the launching trailer at Whitstable. He would have been very proud to have been here today”

Also present at the October 2014 ceremony was Mr Ray Austin and his wife whose cousin Ronald Austin Whittingham had made a bequest which has funded the lifeboat launching trailer. Mr Austin said “My cousin Ronald passed away in July 2009 and in his later years lived in Nairobi, Kenya but he remembered the RNLI in his will and from his bequest the institution has funded several projects including the launching trailer at Whitstable. He would have been very proud to have been here today”

Whitstable Lifeboat Station thanks both the members of the Lewis family and Mr and Mrs Austin for generous bequests that their relatives made. They have funded the lifeboat and its launching trailer, both of which have seen considerable service since being placed at Whitstable in 2014.

Steve Norris, owner and master of the Thames sailing Barge Greta

One of Whitstable Lifeboat stations active supporters is Steve Norris, owner and master of the Thames sailing Barge Greta and in recent years Steve has generously provided his vessel as the base for the stations annual Seamanship and First Aid exercise known as ‘The Dan Davies Trophy’ when three  teams drawn from the stations volunteer lifeboat crews compete  in a realistic exercise  testing their seamanship and first aid and skills for a trophy awarded  in memory of the stations  first Honorary Medical Advisor, local GP Dr Dan Davies who died in 1977.

Over the year’s several local craft have been used to simulate a casualty vessel for the exercise but in recent years it became much more of a problem to find a vessel large enough and with a suitable passenger certificate to provide the seagoing platform for the event.

Fortunately Steve Norris offered the use of the Greta which has a suitable passenger certificate and the 1892 built barge has for the last few years acted as the casualty vessel and been host to a variety of simulated incidents played out with realistically made up casualties to test the first aid and seamanship skills of the stations crewmembers.

Dr Terry Stefani, former Honorary Medical Advisor at the station who has organised and devised the completion since it’s inception in 1978 said “Steve’s contribution to the exercise has been invaluable”

The Greta was one of hundreds of ‘red sailed’ barges that were once a common sight around the Thames Estuary and was built at Brightlingsea in Essex  she carried a variety of cargoes including grain, malt and building products to ports around the east coast and during World War II transported ammunition to naval vessels around the Thames and Medway.e use of Greta it would have been very difficult to have continued to hold the event at sea. The Greta is large enough to be able to arrange simulated casualties around the vessel who are given first aid by the lifeboat crews and enable of competition judges to observe all elements of their seamanship and first aid skills”.

It was at the end of May in 1940 when the Greta experienced perhaps her ‘finest hours’ when she was involved in ‘Operation Dynamo’ the evacuation of British Forces from Dunkirk and as such Greta is now the oldest of the ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ still active.

Today, during the summer months, Steve operates Greta from the south quay at Whitstable harbour on charter work. She can carry up to 12 passengers and is a frequent sight off Whitstable and will hopefully remain so for many more years to come.

People interested in a trip on Greta can contact Steve on 07711 657919 or visit www.greta1892.co.uk

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