The new lifeboat berth was officially opened by RNLI Chief of Operations
Michael Vlasto, on Sunday May 1st 2005 in the presence of the lifeboat crew,
launchers and their families, the station committee, large number of retired
crewmembers, local dignitaries, townspeople and holidaymakers.
The somewhat problematical forecast of heavy thundery showers did not materialise and the ceremony took place in warm sunshine, virtually no wind and a calm sea.
At 3pm John Fletcher, a former crewmember and vice-chairman of the branch committee, deputising for the chairman Brian Rowlen, unavoidably absent through illness, opened the proceedings. Welcoming Michael Vlasto and all the guests and onlookers, John expressed the thanks of the entire station community for the splendid new berth which opened a new era for the station after 104 years of the lifeboat lying afloat on a swinging mooring exposed to all weathers.
In his speech Michael Vlasto outlined the expanding role of the RNLI, in particular beach lifeguards in the southwest, the Thames lifeboats and the new Training College at Poole. He made special mention of Mechanic Karl Bigwood©s efforts to maintain the lifeboat during the construction of the berth, emphasising also the very special circumstances previously experienced at Walton that had led to the decision to build the new berth.
He then cut the tape to signify the official opening before the Vicar of Walton; the Rev Scott Sanderson dedicated the berth. The lifeboat then launched for a short demonstration before the guests returned down the pier, many on the pier train, to the boathouse for light refreshments.