Hastings’ new Shannon class lifeboat, paid for from the sale of two of the world’s rarest Ferraris, was officially launched on Saturday.
The classic cars were left to the RNLI by businessman Richard Colton following his death at the age of 82 in 2015. A red 1960 250 GT SWB and the silver 1967 275 GTB/4 raised £8.5m at auction.
The boat was named the ‘Richard and Caroline Colton’ after Mr Colton and his late wife during a ceremony at the lifeboat station where RNLI crew, volunteers, members of the Colton family and local dignitaries including Mayor Nigel Sinden and Deputy Mayor James Bacon attended the event.
Hastings Coxswain, Phil Jones, said: “The naming ceremony and service of dedication is a very special day for everyone associated with the lifeboat station, and we are so grateful to the legacy of Richard Colton, for making this happen. His legacy will enable the station to carry out its lifesaving work and serve the community of Hastings.
“Six out of ten lifeboat launches are only made possible by legacies, large and small, left to the RNLI in people’s wills. These gifts pay for the training and equipment we as lifeboat crew rely on when we launch into the unknown, in all weathers, day or night to save others.”
As well as having a successful footwear distribution business in Northamptonshire, Mr Colton, from Stanwick, collected classic cars for 40 years and became a prominent member of the Ferrari Owners’ Club. Just 167 of the 1960 Ferrari were ever made, with only ten sold as new in the UK. It sold for £6.6m during the auction.
The 1967 model, was sold for £1.93m, it was considered by many to be the ultimate front-engined Ferrari road car.
Jo Adams, a cousin of Richard Colton performed the naming duties on Saturday and said: “As Richard’s first cousin and sadly the last surviving Colton, I, together with all my family and his friends are immensely proud of this wonderful gesture! It is of even greater significance personally because my husband and I have always been keen offshore sailors and recognise full well what the RNLI means to the sailing community amongst many others.”
Charles Denton, Mr Colton’s godson said: “What a great day! To see all those people, classic cars and the ‘Richard and Caroline Colton’ looking spotless made for a very moving occasion. A fitting tribute to a fantastic legacy. Thank you to the RNLI for holding such a wonderful event.’
The Shannon class lifeboat cost £2.2m and its launch vehicle cost £1.5m. The Shannon class boats have been designed by RNLI naval architects and were first introduced to the RNLI’s fleet in 2013. The Shannon class is the first of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats to be powered by water-jets rather than traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable lifeboat in the charity’s fleet.
It is hoped the remaining funds will go towards paying for another lifeboat and launch vehicle but this is yet to be confirmed, the RNLI has said.
Photographs courtesy of credit RNLI/KT Bruce and Sid Saunders