THE coxswain of Freshwater Independent Lifeboat has spoken about his frustration after the charity has spent around £70,000 trying to get its main boat back on-station this year.

Tony Moore has apologised to fundraisers who continue to raise thousands of pounds to maintain the lifeboat operation.

Speaking after last Friday's annual meeting, held at the HF Holidays Hotel, Freshwater Bay, he said: "The Spirit of West Wight has been off station for most of the year for a variety of maintenance problems.

"Some of them date back to when we first commissioned it. There have been problems with rewiring and, earlier this year, we found out we needed a new engine.

"We have been lucky, because our smaller D Class has been operational on a regular basis and we have attended a lot of shouts. We also have lots of youngsters who are encouraged by our stalwarts like Ray Scott, Martin Gould and Dave Kempster.

"But it is so frustrating to be asked by people why the lifeboat is not operating. I have to answer to all our fantastic fundraising team who do so much for us. It's humbling because we are surrounded by so many wonderful people.

"I'm hoping the lifeboat will be back in action again in the next few weeks, but it's a wait and see situation."

During the evening, the Pete Middleton Coxswain's Award, donated by the late lifeboat crew member's wife Gail, was presented to Josh McGregor.

"Josh thoroughly deserved the award," said Tony.

"He has shown loads of enthusiasm this year and spent a lot of his own time taking part on a variety of courses."

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