The Princess Royal officially named and launched The Morrell, the new Dungeness lifeboat, yesterday.
The Princess was guest of honour for the dedication ceremony at the lifeboat station led by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott.
Dozens of residents, RNLI volunteers, crew members and dignitaries attended.
The Princess Royal chatting with the RNLI crew
Alongside them were friends and family of Barbara Morrell whose legacy has funded the new £2 million Shannon-class boat.
Mrs Morrell passed away in 2009 aged 95 and left a generous donation to the charity. The new boat has been named after her, her late husband Stanley, her brother-in-law Cyril and her sister-in-law Patricia.
Her Royal Highness was even greeted by a coincidental whistle of a passing Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch train as she took to the stage acknowledging Dungeness for its uniqueness and paying tribute to Mrs Morrell and her family.
She said: “It’s always an honour and privilege to name a lifeboat. I do so because it’s such a special occasion. I’m sure this is the right place to put it. It is my very great pleasure to name this lifeboat, God bless her and all who sail in her.”
Jackie Simmons was a close friend of Mrs Morrell and the executor of her will. She officially handed over the boat to the station.
She said: “I’m delighted to be here. I know Barbara would have loved to have been here, the RNLI meant a great deal to her. I’m extremely honoured and proud.”
New lifeboat the Morrell was formally named by the Princess Royal
The Morrell is the first of her class to enter service for the RNLI. She has been in service since February and is capable of 25 knots which makes her 50% faster than her Mersey-class predecessor, Pride and Spirit.
The revolutionary state-of-the-art design uses water jets rather than traditional propellers to power her.
Chris Ubee, the lifeboat operations manager for Dungness said she was going to make a massive difference for the station.
He said: “It really is an honour, they decided strategically the first Shannon-class ought to be deployed in Dungeness and it is an honour to get it.
“It’s kept everybody busy for six months with crew training and all the visitors we’ve had.
“Today is the culmination of a hell of a lot of effort. And it’s a huge sigh of relief now that the spotlight is off us a little bit and we can get on with what we do best which is lifeboating.”
The Princess Royal is shown around the new lifeboat
Coxswain Stuart Adams said: “We’ve been lucky and involved in the trials over a two year period. We’ve been training with the boat and had a couple of weeks down in Poole. When it arrived back here in February there was another two weeks of training.
“It’s absolutely fantastic. The Mersey was a fantastic boat and you wondered how they would beat it but they really have with this one. It’s so comfy and designed to be operated from the seats.
“The speed enables us to get to casualties quicker and the manouevarability of the jets is unbelieveable as we’ve just demonstrated to Her Royal Highness and she found it absolutely fantastic."