A NEW lifeboat has officially gone on service at Bangor RNLI.

The Ruby Robinson, an inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, arrived at the Bangor station on Tuesday afternoon, replacing the Jessie Hillyard, which has been used to save lives at sea by the shores of Belfast Lough for almost 18 years.

During its time at Bangor RNLI, the Jessie Hillyard launched 643 times with its volunteer crews coming to the aid of 626 people, 20 of whom were lives saved. The lifeboat spent 742 hours at sea.

The incoming lifeboat has been funded by a legacy from Dennis Filby, from Norfolk.

Mr Filby lived on a farm in Hilborough and died in April 2019. An unassuming man, he was the youngest of six children and was never married or had children.

He worked for Ruby Robinson and her husband on the farm and he was like a son to Ruby. It was therefore his wishes to leave the majority of his estate to fund a lifeboat to be named Ruby Robinson in her memory.

The Ruby Robinson will be officially named at a special naming ceremony and service of dedication at Bangor lifeboat station next year, which will coincide with the station’s 60th anniversary.

The Atlantic 85 design allows room for four crew members. It is powered by two 115 horse power engines and has a strong hull and top speed of 35 knots. The radar allows the crew to operate effectively in poor visibility and there is also VHF direction-finding equipment.

The vessel has a manually operated self-righting mechanism which combined with inversion-proofed engines keeps the lifeboat operational even after capsize. The lifeboat can also be beached in an emergency without causing damage to its engines or steering gear.

The Atlantic 85 which was introduced to the RNLI fleet in 2005 also carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.

Speaking following the arrival of the new lifeboat, Captain Byron Griffiths, Bangor RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “We are extremely grateful to Dennis Filby for his generous legacy donation which has funded our new lifeboat here at Bangor RNLI.

“As we welcome a new lifeboat, there is also a sense of nostalgia as we say goodbye to our outgoing lifeboat Jessie Hillyard which has been with us for almost two decades and which has served both our volunteer crew and those she has rescued over the years, well.

“We are looking forward to being the custodians of this new lifeboat which will allow our volunteers to go on to rescue and save many more lives in the years to come.”