Villages host annual lifeboat extravaganza

Canoeing from the beach at last yer's Staithes Lifeboat Weekend
Canoeing from the beach at last yer's Staithes Lifeboat Weekend

The seaside villages of Staithes and Runswick are gearing up for their biggest party of the year at next week’s RNLI Lifeboat Weekend .

More than 2,000 visitors are expected to fill the narrow lanes of the picturesque neighbouring fishing villages to enjoy the attractions and displays laid on by the lifesaving charity from August 2 to 4.

Star of the show – weather permitting – will be the appearance of Whitby’s William Riley,

Britain’s last serving rowing lifeboat when a 13-strong crew from Whitby’s Fisherlads Rowing Club are scheduled to row the historic 1909 boat from Whitby to Runswick Bay and Staithes on Saturday afternoon – a round trip of 20 miles.

Staithes’ high speed Atlantic Class lifeboat Pride of Leicester will also be put through its paces with demonstrations of mock rescues in joint exercises with Redcar lifeboat,

RNLI lifeguards from Whitby and HM Coastguard scheduled for Saturday 11 am at Runswick Bay and Saturday 2.45 pm at Staithes.

The weekend festivities are launched on Friday evening with the traditional Nightgown Parade.

Led by the Ryedale Jazzmen, crewmembers and villagers don nightgowns and traditional Staithes bonnets to form a procession up the cobbled streets to Staithes Athletic Club.

Other attractions include a raft race, fancy dress parade, a children’s puppet-making and theatre workshop and the launch of a new illustrated history of the Staithes and Runswick lifeboat station Stronger Than the Storm by author Grant McKee who will be there to sign copies.

Highlights include a fireworks display, set off on Staithes’ North Pier, a duck race on Sunday morning with the festivities drawing to a close with twin open-air services of thanksgiving at Runswick Bay (3pm) and Staithes (5.30 pm) lifeboathouses on Sunday.

Lifeboat weekend co-ordinator Colin Harrison, a former helmsman on the Staithes lifeboat, said: ‘It’s a very moving occasion.

“After all the fun it’s good to remember what it’s all about, local volunteer crews putting their lives on the line to help those in peril on the sea.

“That’s what makes the RNLI special.

“It is all funded by public donation and that’s why so many people come each year to celebrate it and give so generously.”