Lifeboat going ‘is like saying goodbye to an old friend’

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After 23 years of rescues ranging from people to dogs and dinghies, a charity has waved a fond farewell to a lifeboat.

The Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue members paid tribute to the David Brading, a lifeboat that has attended more than 2,000 rescues.

The Gafirs David Brading boat in the Solent Picture: Jon Fleetwood, Blackball Media

The Gafirs David Brading boat in the Solent Picture: Jon Fleetwood, Blackball Media

One that sticks in the mind of vice-chairman and coxswain Mike Allen was one that led to him and crew receiving a Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth Commendation in 2001.

Mr Allen said: ‘We were paged to an incident off Osborne Bay on the Isle of Wight by the coastguard, who had received reports of a high-speed collision between two speedboats. Two females aboard had suffered life-threatening injuries.

‘Two of our paramedics worked alongside the coastguard helicopter paramedic in complete darkness to stabilise the casualties sufficiently for them to be winched up in a very difficult formation.

‘The coastguard commended us for our excellent performance, both in boat handling and medical care.’

There are literally hundreds of people alive and well today thanks to the crew of Gafirs using the David Brading

Coxswain Peter Brown

The David Brading was named after a former member who was a coxswain and boat officer at Gafirs, who died while he was working in Brunei.

Senior coxswain Chris Rudd said: ‘Saying goodbye to the David Brading is like saying goodbye to an old friend.

‘It’s given 23 years of service looking after us and rescuing people – and it never failed to get us back safely.

‘It’s had a hard life rescuing everything from dogs to dinghies to lifesaving rescues over the years and she will be missed.’

The David Brading on launch day in the Solent in 1993

The David Brading on launch day in the Solent in 1993

The 7.4-metre rigid inflatable boat has been sold to Wells Harbour Company, a not-for-profit harbour service in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, where it will serve North Sea oil rigs.

Coxswain Peter Brown said: ‘I’ve launched the DB on hundreds of jobs and she has always delivered the goods quickly, quietly and effectively even in the most appalling of sea conditions.

‘There are literally hundreds of people alive and well today thanks to the crew of Gafirs using the David Brading.

‘After her outstanding service it is really sad to see her go, especially when we all know she will undoubtedly be a very hard act to follow.’

Helping to keep the waters of Stokes Bay, Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent safe are two new lifeboats – the Jim & Molly Newton and Joan Dora Fuller.