MAY 11 will be the start of a new era for the Sound of Harris with the launch of the new lifeboat service.
A Mersey class RNLI lifeboat will arrive in Leverburgh pier in May and will start taking official shouts from that date.
After a long running campaign by the local community, RNLI agreed last year to allow a year long trial to take place. Since then over 50 people put themselves forward to be involved and a crew of 21 is in training. The crew includes a whole host of people who live close by including a student; a fish farm worker, a paramedic, a crofter, a gamekeeper, a fisherman, shopworkers, bunkhouse owner and a builder.
Richard Smith, from RNLI Scotland was on the island last week and said the charity was delighted with the response from the community.
Giving an update on the preparations he said they were hoping to erect a portable building at the pier if planning permission was granted. “This would be the lifeboat station,” he said, adding that due to this being a trial they were not making permanent plans as yet. “In March volunteers who would like to be mechanics will go to Girvan in Ayrshire, Girvan also has a Mersey class boat. In March a trainer will go to Leverburgh to do casualty care training.” He added that a part time paid mechanic would be employed by RNLI: “In April they will all go to the Lifeboat College in Poole where they will spend a week to be fully trained and also do sea survival. This will bring them up to speed on everything to do with launching the lifeboat but will also make them feel part of the RNLI. They should find this exciting and inspirational.” He explained that they would give the crew a relief boat which they would drive back to Leverburgh. There would then be an orientation period before going live on May 11.
The plan is to change the relief boat for another Mersey class in the early stages of the trial.