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New lifeboat service ‘close to charity status’

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AN organisation that wants to set up an independent lifeboat service could be registered as a charity and begin taking donations as soon as next week, a crew member has said.

The independent lifeboat crew are due to trial the Sir Max Aitken lll vessel in Norfolk

Andy Hibbs, the former coxswain for St Helier RNLI, added that he, along with three others, expected to travel to Norfolk shortly to trial a potential vessel for the new service at sea.

Members of the former St Helier crew announced last year they were establishing an independent lifeboat following a long-running dispute with the RNLI.

Mr Hibbs said that the charity was due to be formally registered in the Royal Court on Friday.

‘It should all be done next week. Our constitution is all written up, so it is just a case of getting things formalised in the Royal Court and then we should be able to set up a bank account and start taking donations.

‘We have already been over to see it and we will be taking a Tyne-class lifeboat out in Norwich on sea trials.’

He added: ‘If that goes OK, we will get it surveyed and, if that’s alright, we will negotiate with the owners and then bring it back to Jersey to use as a stopgap until we can get a newer vessel.

‘The owners have said that they will lend it to us until we get going but actually I think we will end up purchasing it. We should be able to bring it over quite quickly.’

The vessel, called Sir Max Aitkin III, is identical to the St Helier RNLI station’s previous all-weather lifeboat, the Alexander Coutanche. It was previously stationed in Bembridge, in the Isle of Wight, before being decommissioned in 2009.

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Mr Hibbs added that he had not yet spoken to Ports of Jersey and was unsure how rescues would be assigned to either the RNLI or the Jersey Independent Lifeboat.

He was also unsure of where his new vessel would be based.

He said: ‘Maybe we could tie it up alongside the RNLI’s lifeboat. I am not sure yet.

‘In terms of a permanent station, the Albert Pier would probably be the best place. I have not had a chance to speak to Harbours yet.’

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