International Model Lifeboat Rally 2012

DAVE WOOLEY reports from Etherow Country Park


Held on the 24th June at this country park near Compstall (sat. nav. SK6 5JD), this was the third time the event has been held at this venue which is within easy reach of the M60 motorway. For many years previously a model lifeboat rally had been held at Southport until its sad demise a few years ago.

The event

Chris Guttridge and the Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society, with the support of Etherow MBC, have worked tirelessly to re-establish this popular and noteworthy event, and all credit to the organising team for maintaining the ethos of the rally when it used to be held at Southport.


Etherow MBC have two lakes and the rally saw the use of the larger of them, but the club also had an ongoing display of their models on the adjacent smaller lake, so there was lots for the general public to see. There is a small slipway down into the large lake which is handy and is usually used by the sailing club, but on the day Team Chandler (father and daughter) put it to good use launching their latest attraction, the yellow Duckmarine. They also brought along all sorts of lifeboat related items including their own launching ramp, tractors and trailers, plus their version of the D type lifeboat crewed by RNLI teddy bears, which was a huge hit with the public, young and old alike.


It was good to see Tony Olliff once again bringing along some of his models from the Southern Model Lifeboat Society. One that caught my eye was a glass case model of D-642 (Amanda James and Ben), the original being stationed at Hayling Island in Hampshire.


One of the purposes of the rally when it was first conceived well over 25 years ago, was to raise funds for the purchase of two D types, 'Modeller 1' and 'Modeller 2' and it was this achievement that made the rally quite unique. Mind you, in the 1980's, a D-type would have cost around £10000, but today it is in the region of £39000 when fully equipped!

The models

As is usual there were a plethora of types from early rowing and pulling lifeboats to the modern Tamar. Lifeboats by definition are beautifully 'turned out' and the models displayed on the day did not disappoint. To emphasise the international flavour of the event there were three foreign lifeboats, one of which was the Danish SAR boat Emile Robin. One of the extraordinary features of this model is that the fully functioning 2.4GHz r/c equipment was designed and built by the builder, Geoff Garside.


The statically judged models always provide a challenge to the judges and this year was no exception. The scoring was high and very close, which meant that the points separating the podium finishers were minimal.


Les' Jones came along with his brand new model of the first RNLI Holyhead lifeboat and this was judged first in Scratch Built Class. The detail was simply perfect, mirroring the original and the supplied research material supported every aspect of the model, so this was a genuine tour-de-force of research and model making.


Keith Young’s well known Dutch lifeboat Ida Mary and William Power’s superb trailer mounted 37ft Oakley lifeboat with accompanying tractor unit were not far behind in point terms.

It is nice to see new faces achieve top awards and in the Kit Class, Stan Parkinson attending for only his second time, attained first place with his 41ft Watson lifeboat, Edmund and Mary Robinson. As with the scratch built models, quality of finish is all that really made the difference in scores between first and third.


The Semi-Scratch Class was sadly not that well supported, but Ian Purdy attained top slot with his Campbeltown lifeboat, Ernest and Mary Shaw.

On the water

There was no 'on the water' competition as such, the lake being available for free sailing. This enabled visitors to make maximum use of the facility, rather than wait for a timed demonstration slot. Members of the Lifeboat Enthusiasts' Society put on an almost non-stop display of models together with Team Chandler, all of which really appealed to the general public and help raise awareness of the hobby and the work of the RNLI.


I hope the pictures convey the essence of the event which had the support of Stockport Council and its mayor Wendy Mitchell, who kindly came along to present the prizes. The presence of a D-class lifeboat and the RNLI as an organisation all helped to promote this charity that is so popular with model boat enthusiasts. Please check the press for the 2013 event and date. Particular thanks must go to Chris Guttridge and the organising team, without which it would all not have occurred, plus Arthur Barlow and Jimmy Woods for their support.