This is the service we provide for ourselves and pay for ourselves. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is supported entirely by public donations – Oban Lifeboat’s Fundraising Group is engaged in that right now – and the lifeboat crews are volunteers.
This organisation, all of those who selflessly take to the water to the aid of those in distress and all of the public whose special charity it is, testifies to the enduring value we fundamentally place on human life.
Oban Lifeboat has saved the lives of over 100 people in the four decades of its history.
New research conducted in relation to the station’s 40th anniversary Open Day celebrations this Saturday, (11th August), has revealed the of the lifesaving role of the town’s lifeboat.
Official figures, confirmed by RNLI headquarters in Poole, show that the lives of 103 people have been saved and 1,279 people have been assisted by Oban lifeboat and her volunteer crew over the lifetime to date of the station.
Coxswain Ronnie MacKillop, says: ‘As we were preparing to welcome guests on board the lifeboat for the station’s 40th anniversary open day on Saturday, we thought it would be good to get some official statistics, to show the work that we do.’
When he saw just what those statistics show, he said: : ‘For this lifeboat station and crews, past and present, to have saved the lives of 103 people and to have assisted 1279 I think is just amazing.’
Seafarers from all over the world have been helped by the Oban team. Mr MacKillop says: ‘We have assisted people of all different nationalities, people who have been in difficulties at sea, or people who have been injured offshore. We have assisted a lot of divers and have helped at medical evacuations from Mull and many other islands in the area.’
Last year Oban Lifeboat, one of the busiest in Scotland, answered 47 calls. Its coxswain says : ‘I believe that the RNLI does offer a world class service to the coastline of the United Kingdom and Oban lifeboat has arguably the longest coastline of any lifeboat station in the UK. It covers up to the Sound of Mull, goes south to Corryvreckan and all the way up to Loch Eil, past Fort William and under Ballachulish Bridge.’
As Coxswain Mr MacKillop, is employed by the RNLI but the crew are volunteers, putting a huge effort into training time alone.
Ronnie MacKillop says: ‘The lifeboat is quite a complicated machine and you have to keep your training up to a high level to perform as required when the boat is called out on a job.
‘For me the call out that really sticks out in my mind was the Classic Wave – a yacht that went aground at the south end of Kerrera on 17th September 2005.
‘There was an elderly crew on board and it was dangerous. I put Peter (Ped) MacKinnon from the lifeboat crew, on to the boat to pump out water but the yacht sank in a matter of seconds and we ended up with the two crew members from the yacht – and Ped – all in the water.’
Mr MacKinnon, now the lifeboat’s mechanic, was pulled under the water by ropes from the deck of the yacht but managed to free himself while the other two men were successfully rescued.
This may have been a successful operation but Ronnie MacKillop says: ‘It was a most terrifying experience.’
The sequence of photographs accompanying this article show exactly why.
Support the Oban lifeboat by visiting the fundraising Open Day at Oban’s South Pier from 10.30am -3pm on Saturday.
You can look round the lifeboat and join in an innovative, fun packed programmed of events, – with some unusual surprises - including Sea-fari boat trips round Oban Bay, a children’s painting tent, treasure map, guess the weight of the dumpling, face painting, book and CD stall – and, yes, food: burgers, teas and home baking.