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Invergordon lifeboat christened with Irn-Bru in nod to £1million donor

Christening the new lifeboat with Irn-Bru. Picture by Paul Campbell.
Christening the new lifeboat with Irn-Bru. Picture by Paul Campbell.

More than 100 people gathered to watch Invergordon’s new lifeboat be officially christened today.

The Agnes AP Barr has been operating since last February, but a ceremony could not be held due to the pandemic.

But today, the lifeboat – bought thanks to a £1million donation from the late Agnes Barr, of the Irn-Bru empire – was officially handed over to the RNLI and passed into the care of the Invergordon team.

A crowd of volunteers and members of the local community watched the proceedings along with Robin Barr and Brian Robertson who represented the Barr family.

In a nod to the family, the Shannon class lifeboat boat was christened with a bottle of Irn Bru before it headed out into the Cromarty Firth to wow onlookers with its skills.

Robin Barr speaking at the ceremony. Picture by Paul Campbell.

A touching tribute

Agnes Arthur Paton Barr died in 2017 at the age of 97.

She had a long history of supporting the RNLI, leaving more than £1million to fund this new lifeboat alone.

Mr Barr and Mr Robertson paid tribute to her in speeches during the ceremony, explaining that she would want the money to be attributed to the Barr family rather than to her personally.

And it is not just Agnes’s name on the boat. As part of the RNLI’s Launch a Memory fundraising campaign, 9,500 names have been added within the RNLI 13-37 on the side of the boat.

There are 9,500 names on the boat. Picture by Paul Campbell.

New design

The new lifeboat has been out six times since it was unofficially handed over to the Invergordon station.

It has new features and technology which will heighten the abilities of RNLI volunteers using it, especially its smooth bottomed design which means it doesn’t have propellers to get caught or damaged.

Lifeboat operations manager Calum Slater said: “This means it’s significantly easier for people to operate the boat, we can get into areas we weren’t able to get into before.

“There’s a new water jet system in this class of lifeboat which allows us to work in shallower areas.

“It’s really nice just to have the modern technology the boat offers.”

The Agnes AP Barr. Picture by Paul Campbell.

‘It’s like one big family’

The Agnes AP Barr has been welcomed by all working out of the Invergordon Lifeboat Station.

Mr Slater explained the community spirit among volunteers: “It’s like one big family, I don’t think anyone could ever take that away from them.

“They work, they fundraise, they go out, it’s a fantastic family atmosphere.”

Speaking after the ceremony, Jill Hepburn, head of RNLI in Scotland, said: “The weather here has been great and very kind to us today, it’s just great to see so many people turn out in support of the Invergordon lifeboat.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to welcome the Agnes AP Barr to Invergordon today.

“It’s just another step in helping our volunteer crews to save lives at sea.”

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