A pensioner has left a lasting legacy to help save lives at sea.
Daphne Sharpe left a large sum of money to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Blyth, Northumberland, when she passed away in 2003.
Her donation has now gone towards building a new lifeboat station at Quay Road in the town.
Little is known of Ms Sharpe’s life and why she chose to leave her unknown fortune to the RNLI.
But yesterday volunteers and supporters attended the official opening ceremony of the new centre, which cost £700,000 to build, and the naming of their D class inshore lifeboat, Alan and Amy.
Crowds gathered at the station for the unveiling and to see the lifeboat ‘christened’ by the woman who funded the life-saving vessel, Dr Patricia Kind, of Alnwick, Northumberland.
John Scott, Blyth RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “We are so thankful for what both women have donated. Every donation we get goes into the running of the station.
“Today is a huge milestone in the history of the institution and we have never had a building like this before. We’ve waited a long time for this and now it’s here.”
Dr Kind officially cut the ribbon on the lifeboat station before handing the boat over to the RNLI, which will attend call-outs on the Northumberland coast.
The Salvation Army, from Bedlington, played the national anthem and the ceremony also included a service of dedication led by Father Philip Quinn.
The new lifeboat station replaced Blyth’s old RNLI base and provides up-to-date facilities for the lifeboat volunteers.
It includes a crew training and meeting room, changing facilities, an office, workshop and space to house the lifeboat.
The building also incorporates the charity’s first RNLI shop in the town, with a viewing area so members of the public can see the lifeboat.
The building was largely funded by a generous legacy from Mrs Sharpe of Ilkley, West Yorkshire.
She died in 2003, was a long-time supporter of the RNLI and specified that money left to the charity in her will should be used to support the lifeboat service on the North East coast.
The D class lifeboat was funded by Dr Kind and is named in memory of her parents. She spent many happy childhood holidays on the coast of Norfolk and remembers helping to haul the Sheringham lifeboat up the beach after a rescue when she was a small girl.
Following the ceremony she said: “It’s just lovely to be able to do something like this and meet all the people involved in the lifeboat.”
Mr Scott added: “Without donations and the support of people like Mrs Sharpe and Dr Kind, RNLI crews just wouldn’t be able to carry on our lifesaving service.”
There has been a lifeboat in Blyth since 1808 and the RNLI adopted the service in 1866