A SPECIAL bell ringing ceremony has taken place to mark the first RNLI lifeboat to host the names of thousands of loved ones.

More then 9,500 people are commemorated on the hull of the new Launch a Memory boat.

Around 200 RNLI staff members and volunteers attended the launch at Poole's all weather lifeboat centre earlier this January, where the vessel was lowered into the water for the first time.

A minute’s silence was held to remember loved ones whose names had been placed on the side of the lifeboat and to also pay respect to five crew who perished in the Fraserburgh disaster, 50 years ago.

The Agnes A P Barr – the first Launch a Memory lifeboat in the RNLI’s history – will be stationed at Invergordon Lifeboat Station, northern Scotland, once a series of sea trials and tests are completed.

Four crew members from Invergordon Lifeboat Station made the 1,276-mile round trip to attend the ceremony and have a first look at their new lifeboat.

Andrew Murray, RNLI Coxswain at Invergordon Lifeboat Station, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be receiving Agnes A P Barr later this year, especially as it will have the names of over 9,500 loved ones who are being commemorated in this wonderful way.

"The volunteer crew at Invergordon Lifeboat Station feel honoured to receive something which means so much to so many people and will last for years to come.

"We feel privileged to be able to launch with people’s memories by our side, while helping those in need in all weathers."

RNLI supporter and fundraiser Sharon Mason added the names of two family members to the Launch a Memory lifeboat.

She said: "It is such an amazing feeling that my dad’s and grandad’s names are on a lifeboat, as my dad supported the RNLI all of his life.

"To be given the opportunity to have his name on the lifeboat and to see it on there is brilliant.

"My dad loved the sea and I think he would love the idea of being beside the crew when they’re rescuing people at sea."

The bell ringing ceremony took place on Tuesday, January 21.

As per nautical tradition, the bell rang eight times to signal the end of watch on a naval ship and the start of a new watch.

The Agnes A P Barr will be moored at the RNLI Support Centre, Poole, on February 22, 23, 29 and March 1 for members of the public to view, free of charge.

Visit rnli.org.uk/bytheirside for more information about Launch a Memory.