KINGHORN LIFEBOAT OPEN DAY 2004
Next year - 2005 - will see Kinghorn Lifeboat Station celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first ever shout.
That was back in June, 1965, but long before then the Kinghorn crew are hoping to have a party with guests coming in from all corners of the Kingdom and beyond.
"This year's annual Open Day will take place on Saturday, 17th July," explained local Lifeboat spokesman Alan McIlravie, "and we hope that as many people as possible will make a diary note now and come along on what promises to be a very special and enjoyable day.".
Kinghorn's RNLI lifeboat crew know a thing or two about records having been the first in Britain to be called out in the new Millennium, but this year those responsible for the local Lifeboat Station are hoping for an all-time high number of visitors when they open their doors to the public on what is their annual major fund-raising event when the busy station will play host to visitors, young and old, wishing to inspect the historic lifeboat at close quarters and to meet the crew, men and women, who have already responded to numerous rescue calls this year.
"We always look forward to our annual Open Day," Alan continued, "when we can show off the Frederick Robertson, our 24 ft long Atlantic 75 rescue craft, the fastest in the RNLI fleet, which is capable of up to 34 knots.
"On 17th July the boat will be just one of the attractions on display, however," he added, "with a host of other activities also being laid on throughout the afternoon at the Lifeboat Station and adjacent beach area, and we hope that as many people as possible will come along to meet us and to give their support to this wonderful organisation and the voluntary crews."
The RNLI operates more than 320 lifeboats throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, launching on average 21 times and saving 2 lives every day of the year.
Many of the rescues involve people visiting the coast from inland, often ordinary people caught out by a change in the weather or an extra high tide, with nearly 2000 rescues last year also involving people in distress who were not on board a vessel of any kind but who had been cut off by high water, were swimmers, divers and others who had fallen off cliffs and piers.
"Last year nationally hundreds of lives were saved," added Alan McIlravie, "and everyone involved at Kinghorn is very proud of the contribution we make to the RNLI with the Atlantic 75 which is a far cry from the village's first-ever lifeboat back in the 1960's.
"The Kinghorn Station's first ever service call took place at 6 pm on 27th June, 1965, when the newly-arrived single-engined inflatable went to the aid of the Venus, a dismasted catamaran which was lying close to Inchkeith.
"Other notable launches in the 1960's included the rescue of the crew of a catamaran belonging to the then Kirkcaldy Technical College (now Fife College) which had capsized half a mile south west of Kinghorn, the ferrying of a number of children - and two dogs - who had been cut off by the tide on Cramond Island, and working with a helicopter as it winched a father and son to safety from a dinghy capsized off Methil.
"June 1970 saw the Kinghorn craft save 19 lives when she went to the aid of a fishing boat which had broken down off Kirkcaldy Esplanade, there being no other means of towing it in than by the crew manually holding a line.
"That month must have been particularly warm," added Alan with a smile, "given the activities of the couple whose boat was seen drifting off the Haystack Rock near Dalgety Bay. Nautically they were in no difficulty at all, the official position of the casualties being recorded as "Horizontal, 5 miles west of station".
"In 1971 the lifeboat was launched after someone in Kinghorn spotted an arm waving in the sea. It turned out to be a large rubber gauntlet, while in more recent times call-outs have included the rescue of a car floating off Burntisland, a giant whale carcass off Pettycur Beach and a live dolphin from Drum Sands.
"On another occasion the boat took in tow a stolen fishing vessel, complete with the thief still on board but other rescues have been much more serious, including that of a family clinging to the upturned hull of their craft which had turned turtle while being used for para-gliding and the recovery of a drunk man who was within minutes of dying from hypothermia after nearly an hour in the water off Granton Harbour in April, 1996.
"During more recent times we have been involved in tragedies like the mail plane crash off Granton in February, 2001, while the record books show literally hundreds of launches through the years," added Alan finally, "with the number of lives being saved standing testimony to the bravery and prompt actions of the crews past and present.
"With the approach of the spring and summer we can expect to be back in action again for a variety of reasons, but hopefully not during this year's Open Day!"
Lifeboat crews are in the business of saving lives, often in dangerous circumstances, but depend entirely on voluntary contributions and legacies to survive themselves.
It costs more than £100 million a year to run a lifeboat service which is available round the clock and free of charge to those who need it.
But as well as financial support the RNLI are also always on the look-out for new volunteers and information about how people can help, in whatever way, will be available throughout the Open Day at Kinghorn, or indeed during any Sunday morning training session between 10 am and noon at the Lifeboat Station which can also be contacted by telephone (01592 890663), by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the Lifeboat Station website (www.kinghorn.org.uk ).