It has been a base for daring rescues and lifesaving feats since 1972 – but Sea Palling Lifeboat Station has never had one of the most basic facilities – its own toilet.
For the past 49 years volunteers at the station have had to use the nearby public toilets. The station also lacked a kitchen and rest area, and had only a makeshift shower.
But that has now changed thanks to the generosity of the Norfolk Freemasons, who have funded a ‘Groundhog Mobile Welfare Unit’ for the station.
Jennifer Roberts, secretary at the independently-run station, said: “Traditionally, the majority of the crew were male and everyone coped.
“But it’s more of a problem now and also anyone rescued would need to use the public toilets.
“We do have a make-do shower used by the crew to shower the seawater off their dry suits when they return from sea, but now with the additional space, a purpose built shower can be installed away from the kitchen.
“We are so grateful to Norfolk Freemasons for providing us with the new unit, which has already made a positive impact on how we can operate.”
The unit contains a chemical flush toilet, crew room for storage of equipment and clothing and a Covid-friendly kitchen area, which crew members and other emergency services can use after a rescue at sea.
Presenting a plaque to mark the donation to coxswain Andreas Schroer, Stephen Allen, head of Norfolk Freemasons, said: “Several of our Norfolk lodges support Sea Palling lifeboat with donations to assist with running costs and maintenance to the lifeboats.
“Seeing the particular additional needs of the station, I am delighted to be able to give this significant grant from the Province on behalf of all our members, which will improve the comfort and operational facilities for the crew and those in need of their lifesaving skills.”
Covid has caused challenges for the station including having the crew operate in bubbles, limiting public interaction, and disinfecting the lifeboats and other equipment.
In addition, fundraising and donations virtually dried up during the pandemic, which the independent lifeboat relies upon to operate all year round.