FOR more than 40 years Lifeboat Week has been one of the highlights of summer in Lyme Regis, drawing holidaymakers in their thousands to the town known.
It all started as a lifeboat day back in 1965, but it soon became clear there was a strong potential for a much bigger celebration for all the family at the height of summer.
On average, in recent years, Lifeboat Week has raised some £30,000 for the RNLI to help achieve its aim as the charity that saves lives at sea.
Final preparations are now being made for this year’s event, starting on Saturday, July 28th, with one of the highlights set to be a display by the Army’s crack parachute display team, the Red Devils.
Organisers have also announced that this year’s celebrity guest will be Lord Julian Fellowes, renowned actor, novelist, film director and screen writer.
Julian is the author of several Sunday Times Best Seller novels, provided the screenplay for the film ‘Gosford Park’ which won the Academy award for Best Original Screenplay and is probably best known as the creator, writer and executive producer of the multiple award-winning ‘Downton Abbey’ series.
He will be joining the lifeboat crew for events on Tuesday, July 31 from 6pm and commented: “I know the volunteers put a great deal of effort into raising funds for the RNLI charity and I am looking forward to my visit.”
There are a number of new events this year, some of which will run all week, including a water or wine stall where lucky dippers stand the chance of winning one type of liquid beverage or another, will be set up outside the lifeboat station on the Cobb.
Ducks will be on sale every day for the ever-popular duck race, and throughout the week there’s a chance to win a prize of a three night stay in a Lyme Regis chalet with sea views in the Lyme Regis RNLI Challenge, which involves navigating a course around the town solving clues along the way.
Also running every day will be a raffle-style competition to name the dog made out of worn-out RNLI yellow wellies, which stands outside the lifeboat shop. A draw will take place every day in the lifeboat shop.
Two of the country’s top auctioneers, who have been star attractions at recent Lifeboat Weeks are returning this year, but in different roles. Instead of an auction, Simon Watson, managing director of Lyme Bay Auctions, and his colleague Harry Ballin will be holding a valuation day at the lifeboat station.
Simon said: “We will be offering appraisals of jewellery,watches, silver,gold,antiques, collectables, artwork, in fact anything old and interesting.”
The RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign, which focuses on preventing drownings, will be featured when lifeboat crew members demonstrate the floating technique which aims to show how, not panicking and simply floating, can save a life when someone accidentally falls into the water.
On the first day of the week there will be the traditional display by the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat crew who will be joined by their colleagues from Exmouth and their Shannon-class lifeboat and the coastguard helicopter from St Athan.
Look out for the return of other favourite events, including the traditional Bathtub Race. And the week will be topped off by a spectacular fireworks display.
Full details with dates and timings of all events are available in the official Lifeboat Week programme, now available in local outlets including the RNLI shop on the Cobb.