Final slipway launch for Douglas RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat

The Douglas RNLI all-weather lifeboat, Sir William Hillary, is to have its last slipway launch at 11am on Sunday, 7 January, next year.

First stationed at Douglas on the 25 November 1988, the Tyne class lifeboat has served for 29 years and is one of just two of this class of lifeboat still in service with the RNLI.

The replacement Shannon is scheduled to arrive once its berthing facility has been constructed.

Given the time the construction is likely to take Douglas RNLI will receive a Mersey class lifeboat in the interim to replace the ageing Sir William Hillary.

To allow the necessary modifications to be made to the Douglas lifeboat station slipway to accommodate the Mersey class lifeboat, Sir William Hillary will continue to maintain its lifesaving service afloat from the Douglas harbour’s Liner Berth.

A Mersey class lifeboat is also to be berthed at Douglas so the volunteer crew can familiarise themselves with this newer type of lifeboat. On completion of this familiarisation and the necessary modifications to the station slipway, the Mersey lifeboat will take over the lifesaving services for Douglas at which point the Sir William Hillary will be retired.

Speaking about the final slipway launch, Douglas RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘After 29 years of service, it will be with a sense of pride and nostalgia that our volunteers and supporters will watch our lifeboat launch for a final time from the slipway. We will however, take great comfort from knowing the Sir William Hillary will be with us for a short time longer as we await the arrival of our new Mersey class lifeboat.’

That same Sunday in the afternoon the Annual Commemorative Service to honour the memory of Sir William Hillary, the founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, will be held St George’s Church, Douglas at 3.00pm. After the service His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney KCMG CVO, will lay a wreath on the tomb of Sir William & Lady Hillary in St George’s Churchyard.

Prior to Sunday’s events, on the Saturday Douglas lifeboat station are planning to hold an Open Day to give the public an opportunity to inspect the Sir William Hillary at close quarters.