Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service celebrate 30 years at base

Shotputter Geoff Capes visits Gafirs in the 1980s
Shotputter Geoff Capes visits Gafirs in the 1980s

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THEY’RE a dedicated team of lifesavers at the beck and call of people in trouble out on the sea.

Last year alone, Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service was called out to 104 emergencies, rescuing 13 people in serious danger.

Gafirs' current boathouse

Gafirs' current boathouse

Now the independent emergency crew has marked 30 years at Gosport Lifeboat Station, Stokes Bay.

Gafirs patron Dee Caffari paid tribute to the lifeboat crews.

She said: ‘The work the volunteers do at Gafirs to keep the waters of the Solent and Portsmouth Harbour safe is invaluable and the boathouse is a fantastic base for that service.

‘The boathouse has become an iconic landmark on the Stokes Bay coastline and provides a great location to launch a lifeboat in emergencies.’

It’s a great location and we’re very proud to be based in such a prominent position

Gafirs chairman Keith Thomas

The boathouse was first opened by Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fieldhouse in a ceremony on September 8, 1985.

Sir John, who was Commander of the Task Force during the Falklands War, lived in Gosport and was the second patron of Gafirs.

Gafirs chairman Keith Thomas said: ‘Gafirs used to be based in the old deckchair stores where Pebbles Cafe is now.

‘When the council decided to redevelop that site they offered us two locations – the old hovercraft slipway at Browndown and one near Gilkicker.

‘The latter was chosen as it gives the best overall view of the bay and a good location for launching in emergencies in all tides.

‘It’s a great location and we’re very proud to be based in such a prominent position.’

Gafirs vice chairman and coxswain Mike Allen, who was a member when the service was based in the old deckchair stores, remembers the current boathouse being opened.

He said: ‘We used the term boathouse in the loosest possible sense for our old location back then. It just about had space for a five-metre Searider with outboard, some canoes and a breezeblock shower.’

The boathouse was built thanks to funds from Gosport and Fareham borough councils as well as the county authority. The project was boosted by a donation from the English Tourist Board and fundraising by Gafirs.