Crispin Eccleston reports:
Following London International Shipping Week, Baltic members joined Chairman Guy Campbell on Saturday 12 September in Lymington to hand over officially the David Bradley B882 lifeboat to the RNLI lifeboat crew. Despite looming heavy clouds, the excitement felt by all those present who had contributed to the fund that enabled the commissioning of the lifeboat could not be quelled.
David Bradley was head of the freight market department at the Baltic, but tragically died suddenly after a short illness in 2008. David’s stretch on the Baltic’s full-time staff capped an impressive career, with his Baltic membership extending back to 1977. David worked with various broking names, including Vogt & Maguire, but still managed to play first class rugby for Harlequins and indulge his love of sailing alongside work commitments. His career began with service in the Royal Marines before he went to sea where he spent a decade aboard cargo and passenger vessels before coming ashore to work in the City as a broker on the Baltic trading floor.
Lymington was a very special place to David – the mooring spot for his motor yacht Goose was on the same stretch of river next to which his parents had built a house. He was also a member of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. It was therefore entirely appropriate for numerous friends from across the world involved in shipping, rugby, sailing and other walks of life to approve of Lymington as the location in which the lifeboat named after him should be stationed.
The day opened with the Lymington Town Band playing as a 400 strong crowd made up of David’s friends from the town and other walks of life gathered to welcome the new boat to the station.
RNLI Council member Andrew Given conducted the naming ceremony, whose format dates back over 150 years, with the colourful, bunting-clad station as a backdrop. The donors, represented by the Baltic Chairman, formally handed over the state-of-the-art life-saving Atlantic Class lifeboat to the RNLI.
After a handshake Mr Given in turn passed the boat onto the local station represented by manager Nicholas Hayward to complete the formalities, before a service of dedication lead by the RNLI’s Chaplain The Revd. Peter Salisbury who blessed the boat and signalled a period for all those attending to reflect on the dangerous work of her crew.
There was then just one more crucial duty which fell to David’s wife Mhairi Bradley who elegantly christened the boat with a bottle of RNLI champagne.
By the time the ceremony ended, an even larger crowd had gathered to watch the RNLI crew zipping around the harbour, demonstrating the power of the new lifeboat’s engines. But it was after this as people made their way to the barbecue lunch hosted by the Baltic at the nearby Mayflower pub that the real drama ensued. The station alarm sounded and the David Bradley’s crew swung into action, swiftly leaving Lymington harbour to go and search for the missing owner of a small yacht found drifting in the Solent.
On such a wonderful day, this served as a powerful reminder of the important role the lifeboat had already started performing and the vital, risky work the crew undertakes on a daily basis. In recognition of this, some 50 minutes later when the crew returned, dripping in their overalls, an overwhelming standing ovation spread through the crowd, composed of hundreds of people, cheering home RNLI crew of Lymington and honouring their dedication to saving lives at sea.
Photos of the day can be accessed by clicking on this link to the Baltic’s Flickr page.