A former RNLI lifeboat destined for the scrap heap has been thrown a lifeline by a Stirlingshire farmer.
Martyn Steedman, who hit the headlines with his conversion of a retired Royal Navy Sea King helicopter in 2016, has offered an ageing lifeboat a new lease of life on his campsite in Thornhill, Stirlingshire.
The 26-tonne Tyne Class vessel, named Prince George, made its final journey on Tuesday, and will now be transported for Mr Steedman to turn into a glamping pod.
“We answered a plea from retired RNLI coxswain and mechanic David Buchan to save her from the scrap heap,” the farmer said.
“David had read about our Royal Navy Sea King conversion and hoped we could give the lifeboat a new purpose.
“At 14 metres long and nearly five metres wide, she offers great glamping potential and will be a great addition to our agritourism business.”
He added: “We’re delighted to be given the chance to preserve her for future generations and are keen to use the project to highlight the lifesaving work of the RNLI.
“One of our first tasks will be to restore her paintwork to the iconic blue and orange.”
The Prince George served at several stations over its 24-year life and notable missions include coming to the aid of 150-ton trawler when it got into difficulty, and almost ran aground off Corbiere in 1994.
It also played a vital role in preventing a pollution disaster on the Welsh Coast in 1999, by pulling a stranded oil tanker off a beach on Christmas Eve.
A total of 40 Tyne Class lifeboats were built between 1982 and 1990, all of which are now retired from service.
David explained: “Although I’m now retired, I’m still involved with the RNLI as a volunteer at Fraserburgh RNLI Lifeboat Station.
“Having started my career on a Tyne Class, I have a great fondness for these vessels and wanted to find the old girl a nice retirement home.
“47-017 Owen and Anne Aisher, now named Prince George, was one of the last of her kind. Launched in 1988, she served as a lifeboat for 24 years.
“While we don’t know her whole history since she retired from the RNLI, we believe she suffered irreparable damage to her hull after toppling off the blocks supporting her onshore.”
With the original build cost in the region of £500,000, the lifeboat would have been deemed an insurance right off and was sold off for parts in 2013.
The now 35-year-old vessel went on to serve as a donor for pilot boats in the Port of Montrose.
Ross Marshall, harbour master of Montrose Port Authority, said: “Over the past six years, Prince George has had a vital role in the maintenance of our pilot boat fleet.
“With sustainability being a key focus for the team here at Montrose, it was important to us to see if she could be repurposed in our efforts to contribute to the circular economy.
“We are glad to see her gain a new lease of life at Thornhill and know that she will highlight the fantastic work that the RNLI does here at our port and around the UK.”
With the helicopter conversion attracting international interest, the RNLI hope the transformation will help raise awareness of the charity’s life saving work as it celebrates nearly 200 years of saving lives at sea.
The RNLI said: “This exciting renovation of one of our former lifeboats is a great opportunity for people to experience being on board, but without having to be rescued first!”
“We hope that this unique experience will inspire glamping guests to help us continue our vital lifesaving work by making a donation to the RNLI.”