RNLI left �1million in will

STUNNED volunteers at an Essex lifeboat station were celebrating today after it was revealed an anonymous benefactor had left them �1 million in her will.

Annie Davidson

STUNNED volunteers at an Essex lifeboat station were celebrating today after it was revealed an anonymous benefactor had left them �1 million in her will.

The incredible legacy was donated by an elderly woman who enjoyed watching the Walton and Frinton RNLI boats going out on rescues from her holiday home which overlooked Walton's beach.

The kind-hearted pensioner, who never married or had children, was in her nineties when she died in August 2008.

Her generous gift to the lifeboat station is expected to initially pay for crew training and a lifejacket exchange programme and coincides with the station celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Walton and Frinton RNLI lifeboats operations manager, Phil Oxley, said yesterday that the donation was “incredible” and he had never heard of anything like it locally during his 40 years with the charity.

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“I believe she lived in London and evidently she watched the boats go out and unknown to any of us she had a soft spot for the boys and the lifeboat and this is what she decided to do,” he said.

“It is quite incredible.

“She was quite a private person and she did not want her name mentioned.”

Mr Oxley added: “I heard about it earlier this year when we had a call from the legacy's department at the RNLI.

“Our station was named as where she wanted the money to go and it will be used for the good of this station which is great.

“The money will be used here but it is the RNLI headquarters who decide what we should do with it.

“It's enough to buy a whole new lifeboat but it is up to the powers that be to decide.”

And he revealed that he had worked at the donor's holiday home around 35 years ago doing some building work, although the lifeboat connection was never made.

Mr Oxley, who was a launcher at the time, recalled: “This was many, many years ago and there was no mention then of her fondness for the lifeboats.”

Sarah Halls, RNLI fundraising and communications manager in the east, said: “The RNLI is delighted to have received such a generous legacy, and we are truly grateful to her and her family.

“The work of our lifeboat crews, along with the provision of the best possible boats, equipment and training to ensure their safety, relies upon the generosity of people like this kind-hearted lady.

“Although it is quite rare to receive a legacy gift of this magnitude, six out of ten lifeboat launches and rescues are only made possible because of legacy gifts, so a gift like this is vital to the RNLI.”

Walton and Frinton lifeboat station first opened in 1884 and the lifeboat was launched to its first rescue on Christmas Day of the same year.

www.rnli.org.uk

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk