In a few months’ time the fourth Blue Peter 1 lifeboat will come to the end of its service life and after 49 years Littlehampton RNLI will no longer have a Blue Peter lifeboat.
In 1966 an appeal was launched by the BBC TV children’s programme Blue Peter to fund an inshore lifeboat for Littlehampton RNLI. The appeal was so successful that the programme funded four lifeboats and Littlehampton became custodians of Blue Peter 1. Over the years’ subsequent appeals increased the number of Blue Peter lifeboats in RNLI service to seven.
Ever since Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station was re-established in 1967 the station boat has been Blue Peter 1. The original Blue Peter 1 was a D Class inshore lifeboat, succeeded a few years later by the newly developed and higher performance Atlantic 21.
From the very first call in 1967, successive members of the volunteer crew have launched on average 70 times each year at day or night and just a few minutes after they have been alerted by pager. Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Littlehampton RNLI, talks of mixed emotions: ‘We are pleased to have been allocated the latest version of this excellent class of lifeboat with its enhanced performance and additional capability and indeed we are especially grateful to the donor who has enabled this to happen.
‘However, it is with a tinge of sadness that we say goodbye to Blue Peter 1. From my generation onwards as children we all watched Blue Peter; the presenters were our distant friends. For her final few months Blue Peter 1 together with our D Class Lifeboat Ray of Hope will respond whenever needed. In 2017 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of our lifeboat station, 49 years of those as custodian of Blue Peter 1.’
The current boat will be replaced by the latest Atlantic 85 lifeboat, funded by the legacy of a private donor. The station is extremely proud of its association with Blue Peter, as are many visitors to the lifeboat station for whom Blue Peter was a part of their childhood.