A VERY special brand new lifeboat got a rousing, patriotic send-off from flag-waving staff and visitors as it set off from Poole.

The RNLI’s newest Tamar-class lifeboat, named the Diamond Jubilee, was bound for Eastbourne but it has a very distinguished duty to perform at the weekend.

Named to honour its patron the Queen, it will have a starring role among 1,000 vessels taking part in the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant which takes place on Sunday.

The £2.7million lifeboat will be closely shadowing the RNLI’s royal barge, carrying delighted crew members from across the nation as it takes part in the huge flotilla.

“We are so immensely proud to be part of it,” said Mark Sawyer, Eastbourne cox-swain, who has 21 years’ service with the RNLI.

“The whole event is going to be something to remember for the rest of our lives,” he said.

He will be accompanied by Eastbourne mechanic Dan Guy and the Diamond Jubilee will be coxed by Rob Aggas, second coxswain at Swanage and RNLI fleet operations manager.

“We are extremely proud to be taking part in this once in a lifetime event,” said Richard Weeks, deputy divisional inspector of lifeboats.

“It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the extraordinary commitment of Her Majesty, our volunteers, and everyone who supports the RNLI,” he said.

The Eastbourne crew spent five days training on their new vessel at the Lifeboat College, which will replace their Mer-sey class boat Royal Thames.

They have had to get used to a 16m rather than 12m boat, capable of 25 knots instead of 15 knots and when their training is completed their all-weather boat will be on station towards the end of June.

“That is going to improve our life saving capabilities off the coast of Eastbourne and Sussex,” said Mark.

60,000 lives saved by RNLI

DURING the 60-years of the Queen’s reign, the RNLI has saved 60,000 lives.

The Queen became patron of the life-saving organisation in 1952 when she was crowned.

She is the eighth reigning monarch to be patron since King George IV granted his patronage to the fledgling institution in 1824.

She has named five lifeboats, becoming the first reigning monarch to name one in 1972 – the relief lifeboat The Royal British Legion Jubilee.

The Duke of Kent became president in 1969, a position he holds today.