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Dartmouth RNLI planning to open visitor centre

PLANS are in the pipeline for an RNLI visitor centre and shop in Dartmouth. The charity is looking to open new premises for selling memorabilia as well as somewhere for exhibits depicting the history of the organisation that saves lives at sea. But first it needs to find out if there are enough volunteers prepared to help run such a centre. The RNLI rescue service has operated for six successful years out of Dartmouth. A recent survey by headquarters staff has found that the town could support an RNLI outlet within easy reach of the pontoon and Boatfloat. A location alongside the existing lifeboat station on Coronation Park was not considered suitable. RNLI Dart Lifeboat chairman Ed Featherstone said: ‘One of my ambitions as the new chairman was to investigate whether we could have a RNLI shop in Dartmouth, as in Brixham and Salcombe. ‘To my great surprise, when I asked RNLI headquarters about the prospects, they told me they had already studied the town and decided that we merited a full-blown visitor centre. This would be a shop combined with exhibits, some of which would be interactive, depicting the history and current work of the 190-year-old charity that saves lives at sea. ‘As well as customers who walk in, the centre could take organised school groups. ‘I believe a visitor centre would be an asset to Dartmouth as well as the RNLI.’ Various properties are being looked at and once secured it is estimated the centre would take six months to be fitted out and commissioned. The project manager would be branch committee member and Strete resident Tracey Lucas, who said: ‘To get the go ahead for the project we need to prove to the RNLI that we can generate enough volunteers from Dartmouth and the surrounding villages to staff the centre. ‘Although we won’t need them for at least six months, we need an indication from people now that they may come forward when we commission the centre. ‘There is no commitment at this stage.’ Anyone who would like to find out more should contact MrFeatherstone by email at ed.featherstone@btinternet. com or call 07889 953974.

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