An historic Hastings lifeboat that rescued troops from the beaches of Dunkirk has returned home after 66 years.
The Cyril & Lilian Bishop arrived in Hastings on Friday after being transported from a boatyard in France.
A crew led by Dee Day White and John ‘Tush’ Hamilton with their wives Bev and Pat from the MacBean and Bishop Trust were there to oversee the project and were accompanied by ‘Little Dee Day’, proprietor of Skinner’s Sheds who had funded the purchase of the boat.
Also involved were former Mayor Bruce Dowling and Ion Castro the Trust’s Publicity Officer.
The Cyril & Lilian Bishop, which served in Hastings 1931 – 1950 had seen action in the 1940’s evacuation of Dunkirk and was first vessel to be saved by the Dunkirk Little Ships Association.
It had been purchased by lifeboat enthusiast Simon Evans in his boatyard in France, more than 350 miles from Hastings.
A chance encounter brought it to Dee Day’s attention and he started the long and expensive process of repatriating it to Hastings.
Dee Day said: “What a fantastic sight after 66 years our own lifeboat has returned to us.
Following six months of negotiations and being purchased by Skinners Sheds, she is now on display awaiting renovation and can be seen in the EHSAA compound by the Lifeboat Station
On arrival our Mayor, Cllr Judy Rogers, patron of the Cyril & Lilian Bishop and Priscilla MacBean made the last 100 yard walk with the CPL Transporter after a 500km journey
“One man, before she even reached the beach said: “I have come from Rye and my company, Stag Refrigeration would like to make a donation. Kevin Boorman said “Because of my family ties here’s my personal cheque”
“Driving over to the beach, flags flying, bunting flapping and horns blaring she was home.
“The French flag given to us with a medal by the Mayor of the French village she had left behind plus flowers for our Mayor.
“Bruce Dowling, a representative from Hastings Council took a huge box of Hastings Rocks (the edible ones!) What a novelty in France.
“We were bid farewell from Simon Evans’ boatyard by two french TV crews plus our own BBC TV for the lifeboat to arrive as planned 9am Friday July 1.
“Two rockets were sent up the same as in 1931 when she first arrived in Hastings.
Funding is now required, If you’d like to help us, cheques can be made payable to ‘The Macbean & Bishop Trust” and sent to the treasurer at 4, All Saints Crescent, Hastings TN35 5PD or paid in at any Santander Bank or through internet banking to Sort Code 090128, A/c 49444310
Ion Castro has started to construct a website, www.the-boat.co.uk which has images of the progress of the Cyril & Lilian Bishop.
Pictures by Sid Saunders and Ion Castro
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