RNLI lifeboat station in plea for volunteers to work in its store

David M Steel, chairman of the Queensferry Lifeboat Fundraising Branch outside the shop. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
David M Steel, chairman of the Queensferry Lifeboat Fundraising Branch outside the shop. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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IT has been a much-loved feature of the Capital’s bustling coastline for more than three decades.

But now the Lifeboat Station shop in South Queensferry has launched a desperate appeal for volunteers after being forced to close two months ago due to a lack of staff.

The popular RNLI souvenir store, based at Hawes Pier, shut up shop at the end of January following the retirement of long-standing helper Rose Ritchie at the age of 84.

Lifeboat bosses are now appealing for new volunteers to come forward and allow them to reopen in the summer months – securing a vital source of income for the charity.

It is thought the shop, which pumps all of its profits back into the life-saving service, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years.

At one point, it was bringing in a turnover of more than £30,000 a year.

David Steel, chair of the Queensferry Lifeboat Fundraising Branch, insisted it was an “absolutely vital” source of cash for the charity.

He said being closed over the quieter winter months had “lessened the impact of the blow of Rose retiring”, but with the busier summer months fast approaching things were getting desperate.

“We are now getting to the stage where the area where the shop is, down at Hawes Pier, is getting very busy with tourists, and a lot of those usually pop in to the shop,” he said.

“That’s why we are very anxious to try and get it open as soon as possible, hence the appeal for volunteers.

“The shop’s been closed since the end of January, unfortunately. If it is not reopened, it represents a significant loss of funds.

“But it won’t come to that. One way or another [it will open], even if it means me having to open the shop up. The shop will open – but we need volunteers to do it.”

He said the RNLI was on the hunt for helpers to fill two key roles – shop assistants, who should be able to take on a regular commitment to assist in the store, and shop co-ordinators, who would run the operation on a day-to-day basis.

But he insisted no previous experience was necessary, adding: “Ideally, we would like to have a core of six to eight people. The more the better.

“That way, they would not have to do every day. They could do a day here and a day there.

“The fact is, we’re just looking for volunteers to come forward and we will take it from there.”

The RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat Station has been on Hawes Pier since 1967, but an official shop on the site was not opened until 1981.

In the decades since, it has become a well-known and much-loved feature of South Queensferry’s coastline.

It is the busiest single-boat station in Scotland, with the shop attached to it consistently ranked as one of the RNLI’s most profitable.

Terry Airlie, secretary of the Queensferry and District community council, said his group would support “any effort” to get the shop back open.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com