A new RNLI lifeboat has been named in memory of a young volunteer crew member who died in a motorbike accident.
Barmouth RNLI’s new D class inshore lifeboat will bear the name Craig Steadman in honour of the 28-year-old Holyhead lifeboat crew member who died in August 2015 when the motorbike he was riding was involved in a collision on the A55 near Llanfairpwll.
Craig’s mother and father Sharon and Ray played a central part in a moving ceremony to officially name and dedicate the lifeboat in Barmouth Lifeboat Station.
In front of hundreds of invited guests including Craig’s family and friends, volunteer lifeboat crew from Holyhead and Barmouth lifeboat stations, fundraisers and RNLI and community dignitaries, Ray handed the new lifeboat to RNLI Council Member Rear Admiral Mark Kerr, who accepted it on behalf of the Institution. Rear Admiral Kerr then presented the lifeboat to Barmouth RNLI and Sharon officially named the lifeboat in memory of her son with the customary pouring of champagne over the bow.
At the end of the ceremony the lifeboat took to the water with one of Craig’s favourite song playing – Thunderstruck by AC/DC – to cheers from the hundreds strong crowd.
Sharon said: ‘Craig was a very loyal and respected RNLI crew member in Holyhead. He was very caring, incredibly kind and helpful to a fault. If anybody needed help in any way, Craig would be there. He had very large wings and sheltered many in need under them.
‘Sadly, his life was cut short at 28 years old. Through this lifeboat, Craig will live on. He will continue to help people, as he always did in life.’
The D class lifeboat has been funded thanks to a mammoth joint fundraising effort by Holyhead and Barmouth RNLI lifeboat stations. Both stations were tasked with raising half the £48,000 cost of the boat, which specialises in rescues in shallower water closer to the shore.
They received huge support from Craig’s family, who undertook a number of fundraising challenges, as well as RNLI fundraising branches from as far afield as the West Midlands and Black Country and the general public in both communities.
The appeal was kick-started last year by Craig’s brother Richard and in April he led a team of cyclists peddling from Holyhead to Barmouth lifeboat stations. Other fundraising events included skydives, endurance swims, New Year’s day dips and countless other events and generous donations.
Ray said: ‘As Craig’s father I am immensely proud of what he achieved in his short life and his dedication to saving lives at sea with the RNLI.
‘It is very humbling to see the high regard he held with the volunteer crew at Holyhead RNLI lifeboat station, such that they set about raising funds, along with the volunteers at Barmouth, to provide a lifeboat bearing Craig’s name. Craig’s passion for saving lives at sea will go on so thank you to all that made this become a reality.’
The D 814 Craig Steadman replaces Barmouth RNLI’s former D class lifeboat D678 Rotarian Clive Tanner, which has been launching to maritime emergencies off Barmouth since June 2007. Between then and the start of 2017 it launched 196 times to maritime emergencies, rescued 164 people and saved 12 lives.
Barmouth RNLI Coxswain Peter Davies said: ‘Today is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work by so many people and the thanks of everyone at Barmouth RNLI goes out to all of them.
‘Receiving a new lifeboat is a special day for any crew but to be getting a lifeboat bearing Craig’s name is a special honour. We will make sure the lifeboat and her crew do Craig and his family proud for years into the future.’
Tony Price, Holyhead RNLI Coxswain, said: ‘It isn’t often that two lifeboat stations in different parts of the country get to work together on such a special project as this fundraising appeal and we were delighted to reach our collective target early. The charity’s volunteers at Holyhead and Barmouth have forged links which will last long into the future.’
With over 50 years’ service, the D class lifeboat has helped the RNLI to save thousands of lives at sea and continues to be the workhorse of the charity’s fleet today. With a top speed of 25 knots, she can spend three hours at sea at this speed on search and rescue missions.
She is highly manoeuvrable and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.