Published: 09:00, 26 April 2017
Sheppey’s new inshore lifeboat has been named Buster after a 99-year-old man who loved “messing about in boats”.
The D-class rigid inflatable, with a top speed of 25 knots, was delivered to Sheerness on August 11 and has already been on 34 call-outs.
On Sunday, more than 100 volunteer crew, supporters and friends of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute gathered in Queenborough’s Elephant Park to give the 5m-long rescue boat its name.
Brian Mills, Buster’s son who sprayed champagne over the bows of the £52,000 boat, said: “It was a very proud moment for me to name the boat after my late father.
VIDEO: Family’s pride as RNLI welcomes Buster to fleet
He died two years ago just short of his 100th birthday but throughout his 99-year life he loved boating, either on the Thames or on the sea around the south coast.”
The money was donated by the Audrey Wilson Charitable Settlement set up by Buster’s sister, and Brian’s aunt, Audrey.
She said: “Several members of my family, including Brian, are keen sailors so it is comforting to know that by supporting the RNLI we are helping the crews should we, and others, run into difficulties at sea.
“Buster is a wonderful name for a lifeboat which will be bursting through the waves to a rescue. It is also a lasting tribute to my brother who loved messing about in boats. He would have been overwhelmed by this.”
Buster, whose family come from Sussex, was given his name by his father in memory of a friend who was killed on the battlefields of the First World War.
Malcolm Vincent, the RNLI’s vice president, said it costs almost £500,000 a day (£177 million a year) to keep the 349 boats at sea.
“The RNLI could not exist in its present form if it was not for generous donations such as this and the terrific dedication of our army of fundraisers,” he said.
The service included a blessing from the Rev Keith McNicol, padre of Sheppey Sea Cadets, and music from the Sheppey St John Ambulance band.
The mayors of Swale Cllr Lesley Ingham and Queenborough Cllr Mick Constable were present with the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Paul Auston who founded Sheerness firm Checkmate.