A life-saving organisation has received a Royal seal of approval as it marks its 150th anniversary.
The Countess of Wessex was guest of honour at the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB) last Friday.
Accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Sir Nigel Sherlock, Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell and other local dignitaries, Her Royal Highness met members of the Brigade including those on the rescue team, those that carry out sea-safety visits to local schools and members who help with the upkeep of the Watch House Museum.
The Museum is approaching the end of a major restoration achieved via a partnership with North Tyneside Council and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “For the past 150 years the brave members of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade have carried out an indispensable rescue service along our coastline.
“These wonderful unpaid volunteers turn out at all hours of the day and night, often in appalling weather conditions, to recue those in need.
“I am therefore delighted that the council has contributed to the restoration of their historic Watch House and museum which is the very heart and soul of the Brigade serving both as its headquarters and museum.”
Ivor Crowther, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East England, said: “We are delighted to support this project which will explore the history of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade and enhance the visitor experience at the museum.”
Richard Martin OBE, HM Coastguard Chief Coastguard, was also be in attendance at the visit to donate a 19th century Breeches Buoy Cart to the Brigade.
The cart, which is in fact a four wheeled wagon that could be pulled by horses or man power, was key in allowing the heavy Breeches Buoy equipment to be brought close to the scene of a rescue.
The cart being donated to the Brigade comes complete with all the ropes and equipment required to undertake a rescue, and is one of the last remaining of its type in the world.
The Royal visit marks another significant point in the Brigade’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Events continue throughout the year including a church service at Holy Saviours Church, Tynemouth, on November 24, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the shipwrecks of the schooner ‘Friendship’ and the passenger steamer ‘Stanley’ on the Black Middens.
This commemoration will be followed by a celebration evening on December 5, to mark the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Brigade following a public meeting held on that date at North Shields Town Hall.