TV star Caroline Hawley set to open Staithes and Runswick Lifeboat Weekend

Caroline Hawley.
Caroline Hawley.

TV star Caroline Hawley, a regular antiques expert on BBC’s Flog It and Bargain Hunt, is returning to Staithes on Saturday to open the festivities of the Staithes and Runswick RNLI Lifeboat Weekend.

Ms Hawley, who has long family connections with Staithes, said: ‘I was delighted with the honour of being asked back.

Staithes and Runswick lifeboat weekend.

Staithes and Runswick lifeboat weekend.

“Lifeboat weekend is a great event for a great charity and I have enormous affection for Staithes and the selfless volunteers on the lifeboat.”

Staithes and Runswick are making final preparations for their biggest party of the year from today through to Sunday evening. More than 2,000 visitors are expected to fill the narrow lanes of the picturesque villages to enjoy the attractions and displays laid on by the lifesaving charity.

Staithes’ modern high speed Atlantic Class 85 lifeboat Sheila & Dennis Tongue III will be put through its paces with demonstrations of mock rescues at land at sea in joint exercises with the Runswick Bay Rescue Boat, a helicopter from HM Coastguard, RNLI lifeguards from Whitby and Runswick Bay, and HM Coastguard teams from Staithes and Skinningrove.

The weekend festivities are launched tonight with the traditional Nightgown Parade. Led by a jazz band, crew members and villagers don nightgowns and traditional Staithes bonnets to form a procession up to Staithes Athletic Club.

Returning attractions this year include the fiercely contested raft race on a variety of home-made rafts in a mad dash from the Lifeboat Slipway to Staithes beach.

The Fancy Dress Parade has classes in every age group and the Staith hosts an all day series of attractions.

More Saturday stalls await visitors to Runswick Bay.

The harbour and beach will be busy with sailing club demonstrations; a team from the RNLI’s Face to Face unit will be on hand to explain the work of the RNLI and the opportunities it offers to volunteers, while a Border Force squad will emphasise Operation Kraken and its message of security on Britain’s coastline.

On Saturday night the 24-strong Middlesbrough Jazz and Blues Orchestra will give a rousing concert to precede the fireworks display, set off on Staithes’ North Pier by the G2 fireworks team.

Sunday morning duck race sees every vantage point taken as hundreds of plastic yellow ducks are cheered down Staithes. The festivities close on a poignant note with twin open-air concerts and services of thanksgiving at Runswick Bay (2.30pm) and Staithes (5pm), with the RNLI’s station chaplain Rev Alan Coates presiding.

The service will feature the award-winning North Skelton Band and the congregation will sing the famous verses of Eternal Father, Strong to Save’and other seafaring hymns. Lifeboat weekend co-ordinator Colin Harrison, a former helmsman on the Staithes lifeboat, said: ‘It’s a very moving occasion.”