Tyneside girl wins ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ competition to name new RNLI lifeboat
Rachel Fairhurst from Gateshead has won the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) competition for children to name one of the first Shannon class lifeboats, the charity’s newest and most advanced all-weather lifeboats.
Rachel entered the name Storm Rider, which was shortlisted from entries from around the UK and Ireland to go through to the final along with four other naming suggestions.
Members of the public then voted online for their favourite. Over 20,000 people took part and Rachel’s suggestion received approximately two thirds of the votes.
Rachel and her family will now attend a special naming ceremony in spring 2014 at the RNLI headquarters in Poole, Dorset.
Storm Rider will then be put into service as a relief boat to be used at any of the charity’s lifeboat stations throughout the UK and Ireland as needed.
Thirteen-year-old Rachel described her delight at winning: ‘I was totally speechless when I found out! My friends knew that I had made it to the final and kept asking me about it over Christmas, but I never expected to actually win. It is the best possible start to the New Year.
‘I think that RNLI volunteers do an amazing and selfless job and it will be a real honour to see my name on an actual lifeboat. I can’t wait to go to the naming ceremony and I know that I’ll be too excited to sleep the night before!’
History and animal lover Rachel got her naming inspiration following a trip to the Maritime Centre at Newbiggin-by-the-sea. She explained: ‘When we visited the centre there was a video about the lifeboat crew and how, years ago, the bell to call the lifeboat rang because a boat had been wrecked on the rocks.
‘People left whatever they were doing and ran out of their homes to help launch the lifeboat, but it was very stormy and they couldn't get it launched. So the people dragged the lifeboat all the way back round up the slope and over the moor and launched it there. They got to the boat and not a single life was lost.
‘I chose the name Storm Rider because I thought about the fierce storm that night and how the townspeople were so brave and had so much spirit to drag the lifeboat all that way and to risk their own lives to save others. I imagined the lifeboat and all those brave souls in it riding the storm.’
Richard Martin, Station Mechanic at Newbiggin RNLI and Chair of Newbiggin Heritage Partnership said: ‘Our volunteers at Newbiggin lifeboat station and Newbiggin Maritime Centre wish to congratulate Rachel on her success in this unique nationwide competition. We truly value her recognition of the rich maritime heritage at Newbiggin and the dedication of the local lifeboat volunteers that mirrors the RNLI volunteers across the lifeboat service.’
Carol Raeburn, RNLI Youth Education Manager added: ‘We were delighted by the huge response from children all around the UK and Ireland to take part in this unique competition.
‘Rachel was up against some tough competition, but she is a deserving winner as she put a lot of thought into her name and it is lovely that she was inspired by a real-life rescue. We look forward to welcoming Rachel and her family to the naming ceremony to see Storm Rider begin her service.’
Rachel is pictured with Newbiggin Lifeboat volunteers Peter Leslie, David Bryant and Michael Brown.