Ilfracombe RNLI has launched a fundraising appeal for a new inshore lifeboat.

Ilfracombe RNLI is raising funds for a new D class inshore lifeboat. Picture: Neil PerrinIlfracombe RNLI is raising funds for a new D class inshore lifeboat. Picture: Neil Perrin

A new £52,000 D class lifeboat will replace the station's current inshore vessel, the Deborah Brown II, which is nearing the end of its operational life after more than 10 years.

The Deborah Brown II arrived at the station in November 2009. Since then it has been launched 356 times, aided 251 people and saved 15 lives.

The appeal aims to raise £12,000 towards the £52,000 total cost of the new lifeboat.

Chris Wallis, volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Ilfracombe RNLI Lifeboat Station, said: "The Deborah Brown II has been an incredible lifeboat.

"The D class lifeboat is known as the workhorse of the RNLI and that's certainly true here at Ilfracombe.

"Due to the steep cliffs and rocky coastline in our area, the D class is invaluable as it's able to provide assistance to people in shallow waters close to the shore.

"Many of our rescues also involve people using the water for leisure such as kayakers and surfers and it's ideal for these situations as it's able to launch quickly and is highly manoeuvrable."

The remaining funds have been raised by Paul Brown, who together with his sons and their friends and colleagues, have donated funds for the previous two inshore lifeboats at Ilfracombe.

Both have been named in memory of his wife Deborah, who died in 1996, and the new D class lifeboat will be named the Deborah Brown III in her memory.

Working alongside the station's Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation, the two lifeboats will provide the very best search and rescue facilities around the Ilfracombe area from Woolacombe Bay to Foreland Point near Lynmouth.

RNLI Community Manager Ellie Walker said she is very hopeful that the local community in Ilfracombe and North Devon will get behind the appeal.

She said: "The RNLI lifeboat station at Ilfracombe is a busy station. What many people don't realise is that both lifeboats at the station are crewed and supported by volunteers, people who live and work among them in the Ilfracombe area.

"They go about their lives carrying pagers, ready to drop everything at a moment's notice to head out to sea and help people in distress.

"They never know when the pager will go off, or what situation they will be called to, they selflessly respond whenever the call comes in with the aim to save every one they can.

"The volunteers and crew of Ilfracombe RNLI need your support and we're reaching out to the community to help us raise the £12,000 funds to replace the D-Class.

"Every pound that's raised or donated towards the new lifeboat is a lifesaver."

Anyone interested in making a donation or arranging a fundraising event to support the appeal can email or call the lifeboat station on 01271 863771.

Donations can also be sent to the lifeboat station, or made by going to its GoFundMe page, which can be found by searching for RNLI Ilfracombe.