Fundraisers return with historic lifeboat

The 106-year-old restored Whitby RNLI lifeboat 'William Riley of Birmingham & Leamington' is seen at North Shields as it is rowed 16 miles along the Tyne. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI.

The 106-year-old restored Whitby RNLI lifeboat 'William Riley of Birmingham & Leamington' is seen at North Shields as it is rowed 16 miles along the Tyne. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI.

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Lifeboat crewmen stepped back in time to help raise funds for the RNLI.

Volunteers took to the River Tyne on Saturday, September 19, to row the 106-year-old former Whitby lifeboat William Riley of Birmingham & Leamington from Newburn to Tynemouth.

Yorkshire drinking buddies and fundraising enthusiasts, The Ales Angels,rowed the 16 miles with help from four volunteer crew members from Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station.

The historic lifeboat, which took part in the famous SS Rohilla rescue at Whitby in 1914, was last seen in the Tyne in 2008 when the Ales Angels and RNLI crew members rowed from Tynemouth to Whitby, raising money for the different lifeboat stations on the way.

Pete Thomson, ex-Coxswain of Whitby RNLI Lifeboat, who was behind the 2005 restoration of the lifeboat, was helmsman through the row and said fundraisers for the RNLI like this are the reason that the William Riley was restored.

Graham Chaddock, one of the event organisers and Ales Angels member, said: “This year we decided that we could continue to raise funds for the RNLI by completing a number of events like this.”

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: “The row was completed over an hour earlier than expected thanks to a fast-flowing ebb tide, and this was a great opportunity for four of our volunteer crew members to get a taste of what it was like to crew a lifeboat a century ago.”

“Our volunteers really enjoyed the experience, despite a few blisters on their hands.

“The William Riley tours the country raising money for the RNLI which is a great way for a historic lifeboat to continue helping to save lives at sea, 106 years after she was built.”