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A new life for a historic lifeboat

by Mike

18 August 2017 • In July 1993 I did a photoshoot with the Dover lifeboat. Almost 25 years later I find out that the vessel is being refurbished for a new career as training ship for young people.

At that time one of my customers was the magazine Yachting Noord, and for them I contacted the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) headquarters in Poole to ask if there was a possibility to participate in an exercise, for photos and a better understanding of the rescue services. Not only was the answer positive, the RNLI organised a day never to forget.

From my hometown Oostende I "flew" to Dover with the Boeing Jetfoil, and soon I was welcomed onboard the Dover lifeboat ROTARY SERVICE, named after her main sponsor.

ROTARY SERVICE was already an old Thames Class lifeboat, one of two built in Lowestoft. She started service in 1973, and recently I found out she retired in 1997.

She has been launched 411 times and saved 177 lives. Her crews have been awarded eight RNLI medals for bravery.

Ready for an exciting photoshoot

During the afternoon in July 1993 I got everything a maritime photographer could dream off. They put me in a zodiac to make the best possible pictures of the vessel at high speed, in front of the White Cliffs of Dover. They had arranged for a Royal Air Force Seaking helicopter to do some SAR (Search and Rescue) and winching exercises. Can you imagine my joy?

Exhausted but extremely happy after the July 1993 photoshoot

In July I got a mail from Mr Scott Snowling, introducing himself as the chairman of a small charity in Lowestoft. "We’ve bought the former Dover Lifeboat and have brought her back to Lowestoft where we are refurbishing her on the boat yard on which she was built in 1973." He added that, once completed, she will be used as a youth training vessel teaching 12-25 year olds in maritime skills. This could be useful for their eventual future career in the maritime industry.

He found my name after I posted an old picture of the ROTARY SERVICE on Instagram. Internet definitely has made the World smaller.

How she looks now. Still some work to be done! (photo: 50001 Youth Training Trust)

It is a great joy to see that my old pictures will serve again for this great initiative. And I am very much looking forward to seeing the vessel in operation again.

Yet another photoshoot?


All information about the 50 001 Youth Training Trust can be found here.

They also have a Facebook page.

Text and photos: Mike Louagie