Picture special: Poignant naming ceremony for Clovelly lifeboat

12:59 07 July 2014

The new Toby Rundle lifeboat takes to the water. Picture: Graham Hobbs.

The new Toby Rundle lifeboat takes to the water. Picture: Graham Hobbs.

Graham Hobbs

Family and friends of student Toby Rundle gathered on Saturday to see the inshore lifeboat named in his memory.

Philippa Rundle with the new lifeboat and its crew. Picture: Graham Hobbs.Philippa Rundle with the new lifeboat and its crew. Picture: Graham Hobbs.

CLOVELLY’S new inshore lifeboat has been officially named in honour of a young man whose memory inspired a heroic fundraising effort.

The family and friends of Toby Rundle gathered on Saturday to formally hand the new Atlantic 85 class inshore lifeboat into the station’s care during a naming ceremony and service of dedication.

The lifeboat has been funded by an appeal started four years ago by the family and friends of Minehead student Toby, who died in 2009, aged 21, as he was starting his third and final year of studies at Oxford University.

He was the only son of journalists Chris and Debbie Rundle who, with family and friends subsequently raised more than £174,000 towards the cost of the lifeboat.

Philippa Rundle names the lifeboat Toby Rundle at Saturday's ceremony. Picture: RNLI Steve Guscott.Philippa Rundle names the lifeboat Toby Rundle at Saturday's ceremony. Picture: RNLI Steve Guscott.

The lifeboat went into service on May 6 and was launched less than 24 hours later to an emergency call to a kayak on nearby Blegburry beach.

She was officially named by Philippa Rundle, Toby’s sister, in front of more than 100 of his close family and friends as they gathered at the station to celebrate Toby’s life.

“It’s been said many times that the ethos underpinning the lifeboat service is that of the kindness of strangers – typified by the willingness of the men and women of its crews to put their own lives at risk to rescue people they don’t know, have never met and will probably never see again,” said Chris Rundle, RNLI volunteer press officer at Minehead lifeboat station, at the service.

“We encountered something of that spirit during the months of fundraising: people who didn’t even know Toby came forward to support the effort because they felt buying a lifeboat was an appropriate way to remember him.

A picturesque view of the Clovelly lifeboat naming ceremony. Picture: RNLI/Steve Guscott.A picturesque view of the Clovelly lifeboat naming ceremony. Picture: RNLI/Steve Guscott.

“It’s also a measure of the kind of person Toby was that we have had such generous support from his friends - from Millfield, from Oxford and from his wider social circle.

“We are delighted the RNLI has decided to station the boat in Clovelly – not merely one of the most iconic seaside villages in Europe, if not the world, but a community with a long and illustrious tradition of saving lives at sea: one which predates the RNLI itself and which we hope this boat will uphold for many years to come.”

During the service children of the Clovelly volunteer crew took it in turns to each read a short chapter in the station’s history, Cara Jade, granddaughter of Aubrey Loze, president of Clovelly RNLI, sung Blow the Southerly, followed by a medley of sea shanties by local musicians. Senior helm Neil Wonnacott read a poem titled Toby Rundle written by Edward Braund.

Martel Fursdon, is the RNLI lifeboat operations manager at Clovelly said it was with great pride the station accepted the new lifeboat and ‘an honour to be on the receiving end of such hard work and dedicated fundraising’.

“On behalf of my amazing crew and team of fundraisers, I would like to thank the Rundle family. Your generosity has given Clovelly a lifesaver.”

As the ceremony drew to a close the volunteer crew launched the new lifeboat to one of Toby’s favourite songs, Float On, by Moderate Mouse.

* CLICK HERE to see more pictures from Saturday’s naming and dedication ceremony.

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