Christmas came early in Port William this week when PIRSAC, the volunteer lifeboat, secured a grant of £240,300 to upgrade its boat and build a dedicated lifeboat shed.
The award came from the Dumfries and Galloway European Fisheries Fund after an application from the Port William Development Trust on behalf of PIRSAC was approved.
PIRSAC chairman George McKenzie, along with Pauline Watkins and Paul Carrington from the development trust, were celebrating on Wednesday night with the volunteer lifeboat crew after hearing the good news.
Mr McKenzie, who has been campaigning hard for years to get the lifeboat upgraded, said: “The Dumfries and Galloway Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) approved 90 per cent of the requested amount from European Axis 4 match-funding money. Dumfries and Galloway Council and Marine Scotland provided 50 per cent each of the 90 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent will come from PIRSAC.
“The project is to buy a fully-equipped rigid inflatable rescue boat complete with self-righting equipment which will comply with the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s code of practice.
“The development of the inshore boat shed will also integrate with FLAG’s local development strategy and will benefit the fisheries sector and the community, improve working conditions and safety, and keep our fishing vessels and aquaculture safe.
“A proposed tea shop and heritage exhibition also supports FLAG’s diversification strategy and the council’s tourist strategy. This will improve visitor numbers to Port William and increase the dwell time, having a positive impact on the local economy. But as an independent lifeboat we will still need ongoing support to help sustain the buildings and equipment.”
Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson added: “I very much welcome the awarding of this grant and congratulate all those involved in taking the application forward. The grant will go towards the construction of a new, purpose-built boat shed and will greatly enhance the operating conditions for the magnificent volunteers who deliver this wonderful service. The European Fisheries Fund scheme is drawing to a close, but I very much hope that there will be a second round of funding in the near future from which more communities in Galloway, such as Drummore, might benefit. There is no doubt that this level of funding can be transformational, as Port William is about to discover, and I hope other similar communities will be able to benefit from it in future.”