By Neil Mearns (Sunderland Echo's - Port & shipping correspondent)
Sunderland?s lifeboatmen are celebrating a cash bonanza which is helping to keep the city?s two lifeboats afloat, thanks to generosity from the local community, businesses and water-sports clubs. Fundraising efforts have recently netted a healthy ?2,629 for RNLI funds, which will help meet the annual ?100,000 running costs of its Sunderland station.
Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman of Sunderland lifeboat said: ?We would like to thank the organisers and participants from the various groups for contributing towards this fantastic total. This is another example of the terrific continuous support given to the RNLI from the people of Sunderland and surrounding areas. As it costs around ?20,000 each year to train Sunderland?s RNLI volunteers, we are extremely grateful to the public for their continued support, which enables us to carry on saving lives off the North East coast and on the River Wear.?
The latest donation was made last Sunday, at the New Crown public house, South Shields, when ?500 was presented to lifeboat crews (see above) after the 57th South Shields & District Sea Angling Club?s open competition. Club members donated ?250, while the New Crown?s management team made up the balance.
On October 8, RNLI volunteers descended on Asda?s Grangetown superstore as part of a national one-day fundraising event, arranged to coincide with the supermarket giant?s National Sea Food week and collected ?1,397 from shoppers and staff.
With Sunderland Lifeboat Guild?s coffee morning at St George?s church hall raising ?300 and revellers at Sunderland Yacht Club?s bonfire night fireworks display pitching in with ?127, it was the turn of staff at the East End?s Clarendon public house to hand over a cheque for ?305 raised during a disco, karaoke, bingo and raffle evening, organised by Denise Kellingray.
In presenting the cheque on November 6 (see above), pub owner, John Taylor said: ?I was more than happy to assist with the evening when I was asked about it by some of our regulars. ?The RNLI provide a crucial service which I am pleased to support.?
One of Sunderland RNLI Branch?s volunteers, Arthur Ketley, who oversees some of the branch?s collecting box activities, has also reached a personal milestone in collecting over ?10,000 in almost four years - the majority being counted in penny and two penny coins! Mr. Nicholson said: ?This shows that the penny in the box from loose change in shops or pubs is just as important as the larger single donations.?