Volunteers on the fund raising trail; to get a new vehicle to launch the Shannon class lifeboat when it arrives in two years time.

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ILFRACOMBE RNLI supporters have launched a fund raising appeal after the charity confirmed the town would receive a new state-of-the-art lifeboat in 2014.

In anticipation of the Shannon class all weather lifeboat, local crew and volunteers hope to raise money towards the new launch and recovery vehicle it will need.

The £1.5 million Shannon vessel – the latest cutting edge addition to the RNLI fleet - will replace Ilfracombe’s Mersey lifeboat Spirit of Derbyshire, which has been in service since 1990.

The new craft will be powered by twin water jets and have a top speed of 25 knots, eight faster than the Mersey and with a variety of high-tech safety and operational features.

“We’re all very excited about the Shannon coming to Ilfracombe and want to play our part in this new chapter for our lifeboat station,” said Tony Gillam, Ilfracombe RNLI fund raising branch chairman.

“The launch and recovery vehicle, which has been designed in conjunction with Supacat Limited of Honiton, can operate in many different beach and sea conditions and allows a faster launch and recovery time. However, it’s going to cost £1 million so we hope to raise at least a proportion of this locally.”

The purpose built launch vehicle is driven by tracks, with a cab for the operator and a launching carriage for the lifeboat. It can tilt to create a ‘portable slipway’ and after recovery rotates so the boat is instantly ready for launch again.

“We want the community to feel they are playing a part in this development and hope the appeal will provide them with a chance to help,” added Mr Gillam.

“The people of Ilfracombe were brilliant when it came to funding our new lifejackets, now we hope they’ll help us meet the challenge for this exciting new vehicle.

“So please keep your eyes peeled for lots of events that will be coming up and feel free to come up with some fund raising ideas of your own.”

* IF you would like to help get the appeal under way, donations can be left at or sent to Ilfracombe Lifeboat House, 14 Broad Street, Ilfracombe, EX34 8EE. Cheques can be made payable to ’Ilfracombe RNLI’.

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