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Thousands of Islanders give money for lifeboat purchase

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‘THOUSANDS’ of people have donated a total of £40,000 to the Jersey Lifeboat Association and the organisation could perform its first rescues by the end of the year, the charity’s chairman has said.

Sir Max Aitken III was originally used by the RNLI in the Isle of Wight. Picture: ROB CURRIE (21850208)

In January it was announced that a new, independent service was to be established after the 25-strong St Helier crew walked out following a dispute with the RNLI.

And, at the end of last month, the new organisation took possession of its first vessel, the Sir Max Aitken III – a boat originally stationed in the Isle of Wight.

It is of the same Tyne-Class type as Jersey’s former all-weather lifeboat, the Alexander Coutanche.

According to the RNLI, which previously owned the Sir Max Aitken III, a covenant is currently in place on the vessel which means that it must first be repainted in non-RNLI colours before it can go into service as an independent lifeboat.

Although the crew disputes that there is a covenant in place, they have now started painting red and white stripes on the vessel, with the JLA’s crest on the hull, to make it distinguishable.

Ben Shenton, chairman of the JLA, said that there were a number of jobs that needed to be done to comply with modern search-and-rescue regulations.

‘We have weekly meetings to discuss the mountain of jobs that we have to do,’ he said. ‘We are also having to make sure that everything is sorted with the charity and that we are up to speed with the new charity laws.’

The JLA has already put down a £2,500 deposit to secure the vessel, but still needs to spend around £80,000 to purchase it. They have so far raised about £40,000.

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And Mr Shenton, who said the money had been donated by thousands of people, added that the JLA was organising a number of fundraising initiatives, including dinners, to collect the money that is needed.

‘We are trying to fundraise to buy the things we need to get the boat operational but there are so many other competing charities, so it is very difficult,’ he said.

‘I think we would be very lucky if we managed to get something in place by the end of the summer, but I think certainly by the end of the year we should have a boat ready to join the search and rescue community.

‘It is fairly full on at the moment and everyone is giving up a lot of time to do all of this.

‘There are people working on the boat more or less everyday.’

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