When the restoration of the former lifeboat William Riley first started in 2005 the trustees had to consider how best to achieve obtaining the funding necessary to complete the restoration work. An application had been submitted to the National Lottery but in the meantime we had to consider how to raise funding to begin work. One scheme discussed was to invite local businesses to sponsor one of the boats ten oars. In September the Whitby Gazette carried a feature under the auspices title "Let's pull together to sponsor old lifeboat" in which businesses were invited to sponsor an oar. It was decided that the name of the business would be painted onto an oar and forever linked with one of Whitby's former lifeboats. At the time of the press release the minimum sponsorship amount had not been confirmed although £1,000 was suggested as a likely figure. The scheme received some interest but not enough to guarantee the success of the scheme. The success of the lottery grant had enabled the restoration to be completed although there was always going to be remedial upkeep of the boat and its equipment.
In October 2010, people and businesses around the Whitby area were formally invited to sponsor an oar in the Whitby Gazette under the title "Oar-some way to make money for Whitby lifeboat", this time for just for £100, a much more amenable amount yet still something to help raise funds for the RNLI.
Like the decking saga, the trust looked out of town for an initial quote for a set of oars, from the person who did the oars for the Charles Henry Ashley, another former lifeboat and one that also took part in the Thames Great River Race in September. It confirmed that it was not going to be a cheap affair and the trust turned to the National Lottery for more assistance. The success of the lottery application (50%) towards the cost a set of oars meant that the sponsor an oar scheme was now more positive reality. With the money secured, the trust approached local boat builder Steve Cook, who has been a stalwart supporter of the boat and its rowing endeavours.
Steve offered to do the wood obtaining & shaping, after delivery the blades were reinforced and painted. The double "clamp on" loops were cut down to single sided "screw on" form and re galvanised, before being fitted. A rectangle of "tufnell" was fitted on the lower side of the oar where it rubs in the gunnell. The large Thole pin / rubbing plates were been refitted as a temporary measure although the aim is to get basic thole pins made and fit small rubbing plates to the boat. The oars were first used during the visit to Wales and experience will be used to determine how much, if any, balance is needed. It was first decided to cut vinyl letters to start for the oar dedications, to be later blast engraved if these do not work well.
When we read about the scheme in the trust newsletter Rubie with the reduced price of £100, we made enquiries during which we learnt that each participant was allowed to submit a dedication to be placed on the oar of up to 30 characters. My wife and I decided to be part of the scheme early on and with my obvious interest it was not difficult to choose the wording for our oar. We eagerly awaited the completion of the oars and looked forward to seeing our oar along with the other participants.
On Sunday the 11th July, we were invited to meet each of the participants who had sponsored one of the William Riley's oars. Photographs of the participants with their oars feature in my gallery pages. I was able to speak to some of the participants in an effort to find out why they chose to be part of the scheme but not everyone as it was a hectic day. I contacted the trust on a couple of occasions requesting information on the remaining participants, but sadly the e-mails went unanswered. If you were one of those who took part in the sponsor an oar scheme and would consider sending me some information, please do not hesitate to contact me in person I would like to hear from you even if you would rather not have your details published on the website. I have added some background information from the brief conversations I did get.
Throughout the many gallery pages related to the sponsor an oar scheme there is little mention of Dave Charlton and his partner Sara. Unfortunately an oar with his dedication was not ready on the day when the oars were finally unveiled. With everything that was going on, on the day I did not manage to get a photograph of him in the same way I did for John Cummins and his partner Helen.
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