Crowds welcome Rhyl RNLI's new £2.5m lifeboat Mrs Brown's Boys star helped buy

Members of the community also raised £150,000 for the Shannon Class lifeboat called 'Anthony Kenneth Heard

Hundreds of people gathered to welcome Rhyl RNLI's new £2.5million lifeboat to the shores of North Wales.

Crowds lined the Rhyl promenade to welcome the Shannon class lifeboat named 'Anthony Kenneth Heard' - paid for in part thanks to £150,000 in community fundraising.

As part of the spectacle, current lifeboats Lil Cunningham and Mary Maxwell, and former lifeboat Har-Lil, were gathered at the shore to welcome the newest arrival.

Fundraising for the life-saving boat was kick-started by Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O'Carroll, who pledged £10,000 towards the lifeboat when performing at the Rhyl Pavilion Theatre in 2017.

Since then, volunteers have benefited from a £55,000 cash injection thanks to the Steve Morgan Foundation, and a massive fundraising drive from members of the public, with £150,000 raised in less than a year.

Crew members wave to spectators at the launch of Rhyl's new lifeboat, RNLI Anthony Kenneth Heard (Image: North Wales Live/David Powell)

The appeal was closed by youngster Darcey Payne-Burgoyne, who donated her £150 pocket money to complete the appeal earlier this year.

Speaking ahead of the event, Martin Jones, Rhyl RNLI coxswain said: "We cannot thank the community enough for doing their bit to make this a reality and we know they’ll be here in their droves to welcome her home.

"The volunteer crew have been undergoing intense training for weeks as they get to grips with this modern new lifeboat which is faster and more capable than our current lifeboat.

"The commitment they have shown has been outstanding and it will be reward enough to see the people of Denbighshire giving our new lifeboat a homecoming to remember.

"It really will be quite a historic occasion, made even more special by the spectacle of three generations of lifeboats coming into the harbour in formation."

The RNLI said the lifeboat is driven and steered by water jets instead of the conventional propellers and rudders, meaning it can turn in its own length or stop almost instantly, making going alongside a vessel to take off casualties a much safer option.

The increased speed of 25 knots as against 17 knots for the current Mersey class lifeboat at Rhyl mean that casualties can be reached sooner in desperate situations where conditions are rapidly deteriorating.

The Shannon is designed for the safety of the crew, as well as rescued survivors, with better seating and full seat belt safety harnesses.

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