Bembridge became the focus of attention on August 10th as the Princess Royal, HRH Princess Anne came to dedicate the new £7M lifeboat station and officially name the new £2.8M Tamar class lifeboat “Alfred Albert Williams”.
The princess arrived at Lane End shortly after midday to a great welcome from locals and visitors alike and proceeded to the offshore boathouse to carry out the ceremony. Although the pier and boathouse was closed to the public, the event was relayed to the watchers onshore on a giant TV screen on the green by the car park.
Accompanied by the IW Lord Lieutenant Maj Gen Martin White, the princess toured the station and went aboard the lifeboat to be introduced to the crew. Coxswain Steve Simmonds who presented the crew and shore helpers to the princess said that “she was very impressed by the lifeboat and the station and that the technology was superb – it was a wonderful way to open the new station” The princess was then presented with a floral bouquet by Hanna-Elizabeth Jones, daughter of lifeboat mechanic, Bryan Jones. The service of dedication was conducted by The Bishop of Portsmouth, The Rt Rev Christopher Foster and the Bembridge vicar, the Rev Canon Andrew Mennis.
The lifeboat was named after the good friend of an Oxfordshire husband and wife couple who had made a significant donation to the cost of providing the lifeboat. The couple who had been keen sailors used to sail in these waters having kept a boat at Gosport. They had wanted to remain anonymous but requested to have a lifeboat named after their friend and employee, former naval chief petty officer Alfred Williams. Mr William’s daughter, Sue Slater together with her husband were also guests of honour at the naming ceremony.
After the dedication and naming ceremony the lifeboat was launched and with guests aboard, displayed in front of the lifeboat station together with the Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter. This was watched by the crowd on shore and those in visiting boats, amongst them the Yarmouth lifeboat “Eric and Susan Hiscock (Wanderer)”, which had come over from Yarmouth to support the event.